As part of the HOW TO COOK GREAT NETWORK - Also take a look at our channel for other great cooking genres. And look at the websites for in detail recipes, gallery and cooking tips. The Best Way to Tenderize Meat - BBQ Steak Marinade - Beef Lamb Chicken Most marinades are thin liquids that foods swim in before cooking but marinades are bathed in myth and mystery. Marinades usually have a number of ingredients such as salt, oil, flavorings, and acids (SOFA). The molecules of each are different sizes and some are attracted to the chemicals in meats and some are repelled by them. Some can flow easily into the microscopic voids between muscle fibres, some are too large. Meat is a protein sponge saturated with liquid. About 75% of meat is water. There's not much room for any more liquid in there. Think of a sponge. When you are wiping up a spill, as it gets fully loaded you just can't get any more liquid in there. Salt penetrates because it is a smaller molecule than water but, most importantly, because it reacts chemically with the water in the meat. But molecules like sugar and garlic are comparatively huge. Water is three atoms, two hydrogens and an oxygen, H2O. Salt is made of just two atoms, sodium and chloride, NaCl. Sucrose is C12H22O11, that's 45 atoms. Garlic's active ingredient is allicin, C6H10OS2, and it has 18 atoms, and garlic powder is more complex than that. Sugar can move inward a bit after days of marinating, but most ingredients go no further than the surface. There are important exceptions: Fish, shellfish, eggplant, and mushrooms. If you marinate thin slices of meat, say 1/2 thick skirt steak, the flavors may penetrate 1/8 on either side and so it will get close to the center, especially since skirt steak has loose fibers running parallel to the surface, but not thick pieces. Think of prime rib. The outside crust really tastes like the seasonings while the center tastes like plain old beef. But in most cases it is good that marinades don't penetrate very far. If that red wine marinade you used on your flank steak penetrated all the way, would you and your guests prefer purple meat to bright red? But let's not demean surface enhancement. A touch of sugar can help with browning and add flavor and color. Spices and herbs on the surface can make wonderful aromas. Acidity is measured on the pH scale of 0 to 14. Solutions with a pH of 7 are said to be neutral. Below 7, the solution is acidic. Above 7 it is alkaline. Here are the approximate pH measurements some common solutions for reference: 0 pH - Battery acid1 - Stomach acid2 - Distilled vinegar, lemon juice3 - Carbonated drinks, orange juice4 - Tomato juice, wine5 - Black coffee, beer, yogurt6 - Saliva, cow's milk7 - Pure water8 - Sea water9 - Baking soda, olive oil10 - Milk of magnesia11 - Antacids12 - Ammonia13 - Chlorine bleach 14 - Lye, liquid drain cleaner Papain, the enzyme in papaya, is an enzyme in papaya and the main tenderizing ingredient in Adolph's Meat Tenderizer. These enzymes work fast. Within 30 to 60 minutes the meat is ready for the grill. Alas, pineapple and papaya add very little flavor to the meat in such a short time. Some people like the softer meat, others feel it is mushy. You decide. The enzymes are destroyed by the canning and bottling process, so be sure to use fresh pineapple, papaya, and ginger if you want the tenderizing.
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