Now that we have cooked our pork chops and rice, and have made an incredible dinner, let’s talk about marinades and what they do. I think it is important to understand what the marinating process does to meats, some tips to follow and some cautions about specific ingredients and what they do when used in marinades.
Marinades are ways to add flavor and to tenderize tough cuts of meats and make them delicious and tender. Marinades and slow cooking processes like smoking and braising lends itself well to these kinds of dishes because it uses a slower cooking process which allows the meat to become tender.
Marinades do some interesting things when applied to meats. They break down muscle and connective tissue which makes tougher cuts of meats, or leaner cuts of meat more tender. What we use as a marinading medium all depends on the cut of meat we are using and what specific flavor background we are seeking to impart into the meat.
Let’s look at some commonly used ingredients for marinades
- Fruit juices – citrus juice or apple juice is great help to break down connective tissue.
- Soy sauce – adds a wonderful flavor and salt
- Worcestershire sauce – adds another dimension to a marinade due to the tamarind flavoring
- Vinegar and wines – add a component that helps to break down and tenderize muscle tissues
- Oil and vinegar-based salad dressings – these use vinegar to help break down muscle tissue and add some fat to relatively lean cuts of meat or poultry. Usually used with pork and chicken
- Chopped herbs – add a flavor dimension to your marinades
- Fruits – fruits like orange slices, sliced pineapple, or any other fruits will add flavor as well
- Onions and garlic–like herbs, add a layer of flavor
- Nut oils – oils like sesame oil, walnut oil, etc., add flavor to marinades
- Spices – spices like black pepper, ground nutmeg, cinnamon, etc., add additional flavor to any of the marinades you will use, and are also perfect for coating meats as well