Editor’s note: “A Better Life” is a weekly column by the USU Extension – Tooele Office that will focus on a variety of topics intended to enhance quality of life.
Memorial Day is coming up fast, which means it’s time to barbecue. A great way to save money is to buy a less expensive cut of meat and marinate it for flavor and to soften it. However, it is important to consider food safety when marinating.
Have you ever had food poisoning? If not, ask someone who has. It’s miserable but easily avoidable. Following some easy tips will keep you and your guests healthy and happy.
Here are some facts and tips about marinating:
• When marinating, allow the sauce to sink as deeply as possible into the meat. A general rule of marinade-to-meat ratio is one-half cup of marinade per pound of meat. Times vary depending on the type, cut and size of the meat. Denser meats such as pork and steak can marinate for 24 hours or even longer. Lighter meat like chicken can marinate 2 to 24 hours. Seafood marinating times range from 15 to 60 minutes. Be careful not to exceed marinating time since allowing food to soak too long can result in toughness.
• A marinade should be thin enough in consistency to penetrate the meat; otherwise, the flavor desired will not be reached. Keep in mind that there is a difference between sauces and marinades.
• Marinating budget cuts of meat helps improve tenderness and flavor. A high quality cut of meat does not need to be marinated for tenderness, but can benefit from increased flavor. Much of the beef, pork, lamb and poultry are bred leaner today. Marinades aid in tenderizing these meats.
• Do not marinate in a metal container since the acidic mixture can react with the metal. Use a plastic or glass container and cover with plastic food wrap. Turn meat occasionally so all sides are coated evenly with the marinade. Another option is to place the meat in a plastic food bag, pour in the marinade, seal and refrigerate. Turn the bag from time to time.
• For safety, marinate meat in the refrigerator; not on the kitchen counter. Some older recipes call for marinating at room temperature. Do not follow this practice. Marinating at room temperature causes meat to enter the danger zone, between 40 F and 140 F, where bacteria multiply rapidly. When a recipe calls for marinating at room temperature, increase the marinating time, and leave in the refrigerator to achieve similar tenderness and taste results. Place marinating meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to prevent any possible leaks onto foods below.
• Never serve cooked meat on the same plate that held raw meat. Bacteria in the raw juices can transfer to the cooked food. If using marinade for basting, prevent contamination by setting some aside before it touches the raw meat. If it has touched raw meat, bring it to a rolling boil in a sauce pan for one minute, stirring constantly, before using it for basting.
• Use a meat thermometer to determine if meat is done. Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) as measured with a food thermometer. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. Don’t have a meat thermometer? USU Extension will you give you one for free. Email me at the address below for your free thermometer.
Here are a couple of fun marinade recipes. Do you have a favorite go-to marinade? Send it to my email below and I’ll post them on the USU extension – Tooele County website at extension.usu.edu/tooele.
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Bring pomegranate juice to a boil. Keep it at a gentle boil and let the juice reduce down to around 1/3 cup. Let the juice cool for about 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Whisk until blended. Add meat and marinade into a sealable gallon plastic bag. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours, shaking the bag occasionally. Remove meat from the marinade and grill or broil as desired.
Marinade for poultry
1 cup oil
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoon horseradish, grated
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups lemon-lime soda
Mix all ingredients, except soda. Place cut up turkey breast or chicken in large bowl or dish. Pour marinade mixture over poultry, and then add the soda. Place lid or cover over dish. Marinate for at least 24 hours in refrigerator. Remove meat and grill or broil as desired.
Darlene Christensen is an associate professor at the USU Extension – Tooele County office, which is located inside the Tooele County Health Department Building, 151 N. Main, Tooele. She can be reached at 435-277-2406 or at email@example.com.