Chapter 13: Salty Marinades Work Best

Chapters 11 and 12 helped me understand the science behind what salt does to meat. With this knowledge, it comes by no surprise that Salty Marinades Work Best. 

The first sentence of this chapter states "A marinade is a seasoned, traditionally acidic liquid..." to which I thought "What? Acidic? Am I supposed to be using more acidic marinades? My marinades are almost all olive oil". But let's keep reading..

The biggest learning here

is around water-soluble vs fat-soluble ingredients. In order to get INTO the fibers of the meat, a substance must be water-soluble. Unfortunately, more spices and herbs are fat-soluble, which means their efforts stay at the very top of the meat, and don't penetrate in.  Mental note to google "water-soluble marinade ingredients".

And AH-HA!! "Oil is often a component of marinades..." and "Commonly thought to tenderize meat, acid in fact can make meat mushy." So I wasn't missing the boat after all! I was ahead of the curve. ;-) What's interesting about this is that they cite vinegar, yogurt, buttermilk, and wine all as acidic liquids, and I've definitely seen many a marinade with those. I've even heard from some that a buttermilk marinade is their "secret ingredient" in the juiciest meat. All lies. 

Ok, flash forward,

and I'm looking for recipes to make from this chapter. And what do I see? "Buttermilk Marinaded Fried Chicken"! Buttermilk?? I thought you just told me it was too acidic? Well, there's a little bump out in the text that explains that buttermilk is an exception to the acid rule because its lactic acid is not as strong as vinegar and wine. Ok. That was a little confusing, but mentally noted. 

Flash forward a bit more and I was googling my cut of beef tonight, because I wasn't a huge fan (Filet of Strip Loin). Reading the angus beef website, I see:

Marinades are liquid seasonings with an acid base (like lemon juice or vinegar). They infuse flavor and help tenderize meat.

WRONG! Acid bases (except buttermilk..) make meat soggy. Boo ya. I'm now smarter than the angus beef people. (probably not, but I'm rolling with it).

This week I went with the "Classic Beef Marinade" recipe.

It was simple and effective, I just didn't like my cut of meat.

Unrelated to this week's chapter..

The weather all weekend was overcast, rainy, dreary, and cold. On Saturday night, I decided a classic homemade pizza was in order. I went to Mariano's and grabbed dough, a green pepper, a white onion, some gourmet pepperoni, tomatoes, mozz, and white truffle oil (which I knew was going to be expensive, but $12 for 4 tablespoons?! However, it absolutely worth it.)