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When it comes to grilling out, nothing beats hot dogs and hamburgers, but sometimes you need to kick it up a notch.
That’s where a good marinade comes in.
Marinades are a great way to add spice and flavor before grilling.
You can also make the most of an inexpensive cut of meat with a marinade by turning cheap choice into prime steak.
There are tons of store-bought varieties, but you can save money by easily preparing your own from scratch.
While flavors differ based on individual preference, most marinades have something in common.
Each contains an acidic ingredient (lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce or wine) that tenderizes the meat.
The rest is basic chemistry, said food guru Peggy Trowbridge Fillipone, author of “Marinade Science – How Marinades Work.”
While the cooking process turns the connective tissue into gelatin to varying degrees, the tenderizing enzymes in marinades reduce the capability of the meat to hold its juices.
That results in greater fluid loss and drier meat. Once those juices are gone, the flavor gets left behind.
Fillipone said the most important point it direct contact.
“This means that soaking a piece of meat in a marinade will only penetrate just so far into the surface of the meat,” she said.
That’s why marinating large cuts of meat leads to a mushy exterior and an unaffected interior.
Puncturing the meat won’t make any difference, either. That just allows the meat to lose more juices while cooking.
“Flat cuts of meat benefit the most from tenderizing marinades,” Fillipone said.
– Allow 1/4 to 1/2 cup of marinade for each 1 to 2 pounds of meat.
– Marinades may be cooked or uncooked, but cooked marinades should be completely cooled before adding in the raw meat you want to marinate.
– Never marinate meats and poultry in an aluminum pan. The acid can cause a chemical reaction. Marinating with a tenderizing marinade should be done in a glass, ceramic, or stainless steel container.
– The most convenient container for marinating is a heavy-duty, disposable plastic bag. When marinating with a deep dish, occasionally stir the meat so the pieces on the surface get buried.
– Most marinades take time to do their magic, which makes it an ideal early-morning job. The upside to it is ending up with a fast meal at the end of the day. For optimal tenderizing and flavoring, beef should be marinated at least six hours, or as long as overnight. Marinating longer than 24 hours causes the meat fibers on the surface to break down, resulting in a mushy texture. Lighter meats – pork or chicken – only require three to four hours of marinading. That same time rules apply to high-flavored and extremely salty marinades.
– The job of a marinade doesn’t end once the meat hits the grill. Set aside a little to brush on the meat during grilling for an extra flavor and moisture boost. As long as you boil whatever leftover marinade for at least 1 minute, it can be served as a sauce with the grilled meat.
– Always marinate foods in the refrigerator to prevent bacteria from growing. Now that you are ready, here a four marinade grilling recipes to try.
Here are four marinade grilling recipes to choose from.
Beer and Coffee Steaks is by David Joachim, co-author of “Fire It Up: More Than 400 Recipes for Grilling Everything.”
Joachim and co-author Andrew Schloss use innovative ingredients ranging from espressos and coconut rubs to spruce up grilling recipes.
Bourbon marinade works well for beef, chicken and pork, as well as grilled vegetables.
Made with guacamole, Beef Steak Soft Tacos are outside the traditional barbecue dish.
Five ingredient Asian Grilled Steak has a clean fresh taste that comes together quickly.
Beef Steak Soft Tacos
2/3 cup prepared Italian dressing
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 boneless beef chuck shoulder steaks, cut 3/4 inch thick (about 1-1/2 pounds)
12 small flour tortillas, warmed
Thinly sliced lettuce
– Combine marinade ingredients in small bowl. Place beef steaks and marinade in food-safe plastic bag; turn to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 6 hours or as long as overnight, turning occasionally.
– Remove steaks; discard marinade.
– Preheat grill to medium or place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, uncovered, 14 to 17 minutes for medium rare (145 degrees) to medium (160 degrees) doneness, turning occasionally.
– Carve into thin slices; season with salt. Serve in tortillas with toppings.
– Recipe from Wholly Guacamole
1/4 cup Bourbon whiskey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon mince fresh ginger (optional)
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
– Combine all ingredients and place in a zipper-locking plastic bag with about 3 pounds of Certified Angus Beef. Close bag, removing air. Marinate in refrigerator 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Remove beef from marinade and grill until steak is desired doneness. Discard marinade.
– Recipe from Certified Angus Beef
Asian Grilled Steak
3/4 cup Wish-Bone Italian Dressing
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pound flank, top round or sirloin steak
– Combine all ingredients except steak in a small bowl.
– Pour 1/2 cup marinade over steak in a large zipper-locking plastic bag. Close bag, removing air. Marinate in refrigerator, turning occasionally, 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. Refrigerate remaining marinade.
– Remove steak from marinade, discarding marinade in the bag. Grill or broil steak, turning once and brushing frequently with reserve marinade, until steak is desired doneness.
– Recipe from Wishbone
Beer and Coffee Steaks
12 ounces dark beer, such as Negro Modelo
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco
4 boneless strip steaks (1 to 2 pounds), trimmed of fat
3 tablespoons finely ground espresso or dark roast coffee
1 tablespoon pure chile powder (such as ancho)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
– Mix beer, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce in a large zipper-locking plastic bag. Put steaks in bag, remove air, seal bag and marinate in refrigerator overnight.
– Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Remove steaks from marinade and discard marinade. Pat steaks dry with paper towels then scatter spice mix over steaks, patting in with your fingers. Slip into clean zipper-locking plastic bags and chill until about 20 minutes before grilling.
– Heat grill to high and let rack get good and hot. Brush and oil rack, then grill steaks until darkly crusted to desired doneness (about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare and 5 minutes per side for medium). Let meat rest off heat for 5 minutes before serving.
– Recipe adapted from David Joachim