You've Been Marinating Meat Wrong Your Whole Life

It's sort of amazing that we were able to enjoy any sort of food before the Internet came along, because it seems like we've been cooking and eating just about everything wrong our entire lives. Along with how we've been cooking our vegetables all wrong, and how we've been storing peanut butter all wrong, we can also add marinating meat to the list of things we've been doing all wrong.

Cooking is an always-evolving art though, so there's no reason to feel foolish if you've been using one method for years when there's a better one out there. Most of us probably marinate our meats by soaking them in a marinade for hours or even a full day before cooking them. Stop. There's a better way to marinate your meat, and you're definitely going to want to try it at your next cookout.

Consider this: What if next time you cook a steak or piece of chicken you skip the pre-grill soak altogether? Chef Joe Frietze of Chicago's Publican Meats told Food & Wine that the best way to use a marinade is the dunk method. What you'll want to do is thin out your marinade so that it's no thicker than soy sauce, but be sure to keep some aside for later. Toss your meat on the grill, and every few minutes take it off and give it a quick dunk in the marinade before placing it back on the grill. Frietze explains this gives it char (which is good), rather than carmelization (which is not as good). "The meat will carry with it liquid, which will flare on the grill and give you more of that carbon you want and simultaneously impart flavor from the marinade," he says. After it's cooked, simply allow the meat to rest in the reserved marinade for a few minutes. What you'll get is a piece of meat that's more flavorful overall.  

So what about the long-held belief that marinating meat before it hits the grill tenderizes it and adds moisture back that may be lost during the grilling process? According to The New York Times, this argument simply doesn't hold up. The acids in marinades do tenderize proteins, but it's really only limited to the outer surface of the food and even if left overnight, the liquid in the marinade never fully penetrates the meat. 

Give this new marinating technique a shot. Not only will you find that your grilled meat tastes better, but you can say goodbye to those days of kicking yourself because you forgot to marinate a steak for five hours before grillin' time.