My friend, Lori, is known for her delicious chicken cutlets. She marinates boneless chicken breasts overnight and then grills them to perfection. Lori’s marinade is legendary. As with most great recipes, Lori’s marinade recipe did not start or end with Lori. Lori received the recipe from her friend, Marcia, and Lori shared this awesome marinade recipe with me and so the sharing of recipes continues…
I have found uses for this marinade way beyond grilled chicken cutlets. I have since added pepper, ginger, wine and mustard, some of my favorite flavors, to the recipe. The ginger, wine and mustard also add some marinating science to this recipe, as you will see. I have prepared this delicious marinade for roast chicken, london broil, steaks, roasts and tofu, too. When I use this for a thick roast or steak, I pierce or score the meat slightly to allow the marinade to penetrate.
Many times, I prepare a double or triple batch of the marinade and then use it to marinate all the chicken and meat that I plan to use for Shabbos or for a barbecue. To keep things interesting, I’ll add jalapeno, lime juice, Montreal Steak seasoning or whatever seems to strike my fancy to some or all of the marinade. This is a versatile and delicious marinade that is a winner every time.
And, now for the science of marination: Marinades tenderize food by adding ingredients that flavor and soften the protein. Most marinades are comprised of oil, seasonings and an acid and/or enzymatic component. Raw lean meat tends to be tough because of the collagen and elastin fiber content of the connective tissues. Marinating meat before cooking is an excellent way to pre-tenderize meat by breaking down the connective tissue in the meat. and to prevent moisture loss when heat is applied. It is important to watch the amount of time that proteins marinate, because if a marinade is left for too long, it can completely digest the meat.
Acids, such as lemon juice or vinegar, denature proteins through disruption of hydrogen bonds in the collagen fibrils. Alcohol, like beer and wine, help the acid components of the marinade penetrate since fats in the meat are soluble in alcohol Certain enzymes work to attack the protein networks of tough meat. Protease, found in ginger, helps to break down muscle fiber protein and Bromelain, found in pineapple, break down collagen and elastin in meat. Oils are used in marinades to impart and release the flavors of the seasonings. Mustard is an excellent emulsifier, helping to keep ingredients together with minimum separation.
dash of black pepper, red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper