How to Marinate Meat

Marinating meat is one of the best ways to give it more flavor and to tenderize it at the same time. It's foolproof if you follow a few simple guidelines.

Tips for Marinating meat:

  • Any marinade that contains acid, alcohol or salt should not be used for very long, because it will chemically "cook" or denature the food in it. Marinate food in these marinades for less than 4 hours. Marinades that contain citrus juices, especially lemon or lime juice, should be used for only two hours or less. Marinades that contain no salt, acid or alcohol can be marinated overnight or, in some cases, longer.
  • Although marinades thwart bacterial growth and help extend food's life, remember that the food in them is still raw and must be treated as such.
  • Do not reuse a marinade.

How to Marinate Meats:

  1. Trim the meat so that it's ready for cooking. You shouldn't have to cut or trim the meat after it's been marinated.
  2. Mix together the marinade according to its recipe.
  3. Notice whether the marinade contains these three key ingredients: acid (such as wine, lemon juice or vinegar), salt or alcohol. Each one reduces the amount of time the meat should marinate.
  4. Combine the meat and marinade in a nonreactive, sealed container. Make especially sure not to use aluminum or cast iron, and try to avoid metal altogether, if possible.
  5. Marinate in a sealable plastic bag if you can. You can turn these over often, ensuring that all surfaces get coated in the marinade.
  6. Immediately place the container in the refrigerator. Never marinate meat at room temperature.
  7. See tips for marinating times.
  8. When ready to cook, be sure to treat the marinated meat with the same care you would treat any raw meat.
  9. Discard the marinade after use.

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