The Basics of Marinades – The Most Important Thing
When you see food that is soaked in a mixture of liquids and seasonings for several hours, it is called marinating. The sauce used to soak the food for the purpose of tenderizing meats and adding flavor to food, is the marinade.
Typical blends of vinegar, wine, oil, salt, and seasonings make terrific marinades that boost the flavor of food. The natural acid in the liquids along with salt tenderize tough fibers, while the oil acts as a flavor enhancer. Always use a non-reactive container such as glass, ceramic, or even plastic bowls. Aluminum containers react with the acid in your marinade, and as the acid penetrates the meat, it can also carry flavorings along with with it. Obviously, the longer the meat marinates, the softer it will be when cooked, although there is a point when the meat will turn to mush, making it useless.
Once food has been marinated, it can be cooked in a variety of ways. Many people like to grill marinated foods, but they can also be baked, roasted, broiled, fried, or stewed. Older meats tend to benefit from a slow, gentle stewing which helps to break down the fibrous tissue of the meat even more, while cuts of chicken and steak can be quite excellent when they are cooked on a grill.