A marinade is a liquid solution that is used to enhance a meat’s attributes prior to cooking. Marinades serve two primary functions: 1) as a tenderizer and 2) as a flavor enhancer. Some tough cuts of meat benefit from the tenderizing effects of marination. It is important to have an acidic base in the marinade because it protects the food from the formation of harmful substances on the surface while cooking. Marinades are particularly important and useful in grilling because of the high heats produced by grills.
Direct contact is an important step in marinating. This means that soaking a piece of meat in a marinade will only penetrate just so far into the surface of the meat. If you merely soak a large cut of meat in a regular tenderizing marinade, you end up with a mushy exterior and an unaffected center.
Some recent studies by the American Institute for Cancer Research have shown that a reaction between creatine in muscle meats and amino acids caused by flame-cooking at high temperatures produces a cancer-causing agent known as heterocyclic amine (HCA). New research seems to indicate that marinades may discourage formation of certain HCAs in char-grilled meat.
Marinades reduce HCA’s formed on meats by as much as 90% to 99% although at this time scientists are not sure why. We recommend that you both inject and soak meat with our marinades in a bag prior to high heat grilling to reduce the HCA’s formed by direct heat. Not only do our Cajun Injector Marinades add great flavor, and tenderize the meat, they also help reduce the formation of carcinogens on the surface and the inside of the meat. Marinating is currently the best known method of discouraging the formation of HCA’s.
One of the great things about grilling is that you can come home and use an injectable marinade just before you throw a couple of chops on the grill and have a fabulous meal in a very short time.
There are also four very good reasons for using marinades:
A good marinade contains flavorings, spices, herbs, etc. Because a marinade is also acidic it carries these flavors into foods. When selecting a marinade look for flavor that will compliment the food you are marinating.
Marinades typically contain some kind of oil. These natural emulsifiers help penetrate meats faster, so check the label. The oil also serves to reduce moisture loss during cooking.
Cooking meats over a direct flame, heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) are created. These potentially cancer-causing agents can be reduced by, as much at 99% when foods are marinated in an acidic marinade at least that’s what the American Cancer Research Institute says. An acidic marinade acts by preventing HCA’s from forming on meats.
The acids in a marinade that contains vinegar, citric juices or other acidic liquids acts to break down protein chains in meats, making them more tender. Some protein surfaces that come in direct contact with a marinade can become soft and mushy – not something you would want to serve. This is particularly important with fish and seafood, which can actually cook, in an acidic environment.