The Gastronomer Answers Questions About Marinade

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The June 11 Gastronomer column on marinades for grilling steaks ("The Myth About Marinades") prompted lots of e-mails from readers.

Here are Andreas Viestad's answers to the most common questions:

If the marinade does not penetrate through the surface, then will it penetrate from within by using a syringe or other injectors?

As always, the answer from a scientific point of view is somewhat nuanced. But yes, there are good reasons to claim that injectors have an effect, at least on juiciness (by adding fat or moisture) and flavor.

But injecting marinade does not make much sense for a relatively thin piece of meat like a steak. It is a method that is more suitable for roasts, or to white, lean meat that has a tendency to get dry, such as turkey and chicken breasts.

What about blade tenderizers?

A marinade will go into every little nook and crevice in the meat, depositing its flavor without actually penetrating the tissue.

One efficient way to ensure that the marinade goes into the meat is to forcefully make more openings -- by using a blade tenderizer or by using a sharp knife to cut many new slits. The disadvantage is that moisture probably will go out of these holes during cooking, and that will make the meat drier.

This is a method recommended only for very tough cuts of beef -- and those might just as well be slow-cooked.

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