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Marinating Chicken


ambra
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I've been experimenting with marinades lately, and while the marinades have wonderful flavours, they never quite penetrate the meat.

What am I doing wrong?

Is it too much oil? Too little acid? Do I need to be thinking rub instead of marinade? Am I marinating for too short of time?

For example, here is marinate from last night.

Chicken was cut into pieces and marinated in (I didn't measure anything out, so these are approximate quantities):

1/2 tsp Thyme (dry)

2 bay leaves

Salt Pepper

2 TB of Olive Oil

2 TB of Passito di Pantelleria

1 TB of White Wine Vinegar

3 cloves garlic, chopped

I marinated for 12 hours. Afterwards, I dumped it all in the pan with potatoes, and roasted it. The potatoes tasted more of hte marinade than the chicken. They were delicious. I had hoped the chicken meat tasted that way. What is my problem?

Another marinade:

•1 Tbsp. OJ

Juice of half a lemon

•3 Tbsp. olive oil

•1 tsp. sugar

•1½ tsp. salt

•½ tsp. black pepper

•2-3 cloves minced garlic

•1-2 Tbsp. water, if necessary

In the second marinate, all I tasted was garlic, what about the orange?.

Don't get me wrong, they are still delicious, but they don't taste like the marinade!!!!

Help! and Thank you!

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A lengthy marinade won't do much for bone-in chicken....in fact, I don't marinate many foods for more than an hour or two. If you're not getting the flavor you seek, try layering it on. Marinate for a short time, pat dry, then use a spice rub (dry or paste), tucking some of it underneath the skin.

Or, if you're hell-bent to get flavor inside that chicken, try a Cajun Injector...a big hypodermic needle used to stick various flavors directly into poultry flesh.

My favorite chicken marinade is a vietnamese-style ga nuong: 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 T fish sauce, 1 T fresh lime juice, and 2 T oil, mixed with a couple pounds boneless thighs and rested for just 30 minutes. Grill or broil. This delivers maximum flavor with minimum effort & time...

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if you want the flavor in the meat you have to brine it, a marinade won't get far intside (if at all) and one made with oil will as far as I know never penetrate the meat. A brine will, check for a couple recipes online and try that. You can always put the marinade on after brining (or a rub). The high salt content in a bring first pulls water from the meat, but eventually it gets pulled back in, along with the flavors, until things level out.

HuyngryC has a good marinade that will penetrate some, as it contains no oil, and the fish sauce is very salty. And as soon as you have acidic things in there like the lime juice you want to marinade short, as the juice (or vinegar etc) will "cook" the meat. I often make chicken breast strips with just salt, pepper, juice of one or two limes and a hand full cilantro. You can see the meat turn white pretty quick.

Try a brine with the same flavorings as the marinade and see where that takes you, let us know!

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Thanks for the replies and the schooling. I didn't know all that about marinades. I've tasted flavorful chicken before and always thought it was the marinade.

I will try a brine. I must admit I've never wanted to because I always thought it would be salty. Not in the sense that it tastes salty but in the sense that when you eat something salty you are thirsty for the rest of the night. I guess I gotta get over that!

I also want to try that Vietnamese Chicken mentioned above!

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just find a recipe and follow it. And if the recipe asks for x cups of salt, make sure to know what salt they use. Once cup of kosher salt from Diamond Chrystal is a lot less than a cup of table salt. Not paying attention to this can ruin your dish. Best if you find a recipe with weight instead of cups.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I use a Jaccard Meat Tenderizer to cheat...

Prefer to brining (but not always)...

Jaccard Meat Tenderizer.jpg

Edited by waves2ya (log)

~waves

"When you look at the face of the bear, you see the monumental indifference of nature. . . . You see a half-disguised interest in just one thing: food."

Werner Herzog; NPR interview about his documentary "Grizzly Man"...

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just find a recipe and follow it. And if the recipe asks for x cups of salt, make sure to know what salt they use. Once cup of kosher salt from Diamond Chrystal is a lot less than a cup of table salt. Not paying attention to this can ruin your dish. Best if you find a recipe with weight instead of cups.

For a brine, I go strictly by weight. 3% for a normal brine, 2% for mild, 4% for aggressive. Measure the water into the vessel you're brining in until it covers the meat, take out the meat, add in the salt and dissolve, then add back in the meat. This is so much simpler and less error prone than cup based measurements.

Personally, I don't see much of a difference between a salty, wet marinade & a brine. On the surface level, it would seem like the same chemistry is happening so I only brine when I want *just* the salt flavour.

PS: I am a guy.

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When you say 3 percent etc? Are you referring to the amount of salt in the water?

Have you ever done any with Sicilian Sea Salt? It's not special salt, it costs 27 cents a kilo. But it's really all I have as they don't sell Kosher salt here. It is definitely less salty than Diamond Star.

Also, if I follow a recipe that is meant for a bigger turkey, and I use only the amount needed for my turkey, what will happen?

As you can see, I've never brined in my life. I also bought a 1.5 kilo turkey which is about 3.3 lbs and I would like to brine it.

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just find a recipe and follow it. And if the recipe asks for x cups of salt, make sure to know what salt they use. Once cup of kosher salt from Diamond Chrystal is a lot less than a cup of table salt. Not paying attention to this can ruin your dish. Best if you find a recipe with weight instead of cups.

also note that not all Kosher salts are the same. Diamond Crystal measures differently fr/ Morton's which measures differently fr/ some generics (if you are measuring by volume) so bear that in mind when making a brine--or well, any thing.

in loving memory of Mr. Squirt (1998-2004)--

the best cat ever.

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The percentage means exactly that: amount of salt in the water. I generally follow Michael Ruhlman's brine recipe which is about 5%. I usually marinate a 4 lbs chicken for about 8 hours, then air dry for 12 or so before roasting. If you cut the chicken into pieces, I think you can brine for less time.

Really the best way to go about it is by weight. So per liter of H20 (google says that its 1000g (I really should convert to metric for everything its so much easier)), use 50g salt.

Put the amount of brine plus the flavorings you want on the stove to help dissolve the salt. I usually use a lemon, half head of garlic, thyme, cracked pepper, bay leaf. Cool the brine, then add the chicken/turkey and soak in the fridge for the amount of time you need.

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Always go by weight for these things, if the recipe only calls things out by cups and does not specify which salt (or sugar for that matter) they use, go with the ratios mentioned above. And rather err on the low salt side and a shorter bath.

A wet marinade should do almost the same, a 12 hour bath in brine would probably add more moisture to the meat than just a wet marinade though. I think it mostly might make a difference with thick cuts like roasts, whole chicken, etc. A wet marinade should be just fine for regular cuts though. As long as the "wet" part is water or some other water based liquid (juices, beer, wine, etc) and not oil, which won't penetrate the meat. And what ever water might get pulled out of the meat will just float to the bottom where it might not get back at the meat.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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The percentage means exactly that: amount of salt in the water. I generally follow Michael Ruhlman's brine recipe which is about 5%. I usually marinate a 4 lbs chicken for about 8 hours, then air dry for 12 or so before roasting. If you cut the chicken into pieces, I think you can brine for less time.

Really the best way to go about it is by weight. So per liter of H20 (google says that its 1000g (I really should convert to metric for everything its so much easier)), use 50g salt.

Put the amount of brine plus the flavorings you want on the stove to help dissolve the salt. I usually use a lemon, half head of garlic, thyme, cracked pepper, bay leaf. Cool the brine, then add the chicken/turkey and soak in the fridge for the amount of time you need.

The downside of a 5% brine is you have to be diligent about timing. Put it in too long and it will be too salty, not long enough and it will taste bland. With a 3% brine, you can leave it in for a week and then cook it and it will turn out perfectly seasoned.

PS: I am a guy.

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I split the difference and did 4 percent. It was a total success. Although none of other flavours I added seeped in. Next time, I will add more....

Thanks all for the great advice.

One question...you can't do this with defrosted meats, right?

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I split the difference and did 4 percent. It was a total success. Although none of other flavours I added seeped in. Next time, I will add more....

Thanks all for the great advice.

One question...you can't do this with defrosted meats, right?

The meat came out juicy but not infused with the spices you added to the salted water?

edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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The percentage means exactly that: amount of salt in the water. I generally follow Michael Ruhlman's brine recipe which is about 5%. I usually marinate a 4 lbs chicken for about 8 hours, then air dry for 12 or so before roasting. If you cut the chicken into pieces, I think you can brine for less time.

Really the best way to go about it is by weight. So per liter of H20 (google says that its 1000g (I really should convert to metric for everything its so much easier)), use 50g salt.

Put the amount of brine plus the flavorings you want on the stove to help dissolve the salt. I usually use a lemon, half head of garlic, thyme, cracked pepper, bay leaf. Cool the brine, then add the chicken/turkey and soak in the fridge for the amount of time you need.

The downside of a 5% brine is you have to be diligent about timing. Put it in too long and it will be too salty, not long enough and it will taste bland. With a 3% brine, you can leave it in for a week and then cook it and it will turn out perfectly seasoned.

Sure. I guess I got in the habit of making the brine in the evening, chilling over night, put chicken in, go to work, take chicken out and let dry in fridge until the next night.

Is 3% the magic number of perfectly seasoned? Is that why you can leave it for much longer?

Abra - my brines end up pretty "chunky" I put a decent amount of stuff in there.

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I don't see why defrosted meat won't work just as well? Haven't heard that before. As I buy chunks of animals, most of my meat is frozen.

I actually found that meat frozen with a liquid (not oily) marinade tastes much better once defrosted, I guess the slow defrosting in the fridge kind of adds a bit of brining action to the meat.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Once I did a batch of Escoffier's Cooked Marinade. As I remember, it had a lot of parsley plus some of the usual suspects.

If you want, I'll find the reference, for which I'll have to walk to the other end of the house and look in the 2-3 Escoffier books I have.

Escoffier warned that the marinade was strong and was intended only for game.

A "strong" marinade? Ah come on Auguste! We're in America, now!

So, I used his marinade on some chunks, cooking calls these 'cubes', of lamb.

Yup, win one for the king of chefs, chef of kings! It was STRONG!

And with the flavor in the meat itself. No joke.

My guess: The chunks of lamb had lots of surface area where the fibers had been cut and had the ends exposed. Such surface area may be crucial for letting marinade penetrate. Chicken, just cut into pieces, may have too little such surface area. Just a guess.

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

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In Hector Blumenthal's "In Search of Perfection 2", he experimented with various rubs and marinades on chicken, then scanned them with an MRI machine to see what penetration was achieved. IIRC, adding yogurt improved the results.

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