When purchasing a lean cut of meat, especially beef, it is helpful to add a tenderizing marinade to help break down the tough muscle fibers and connective tissue.
If you purchase a well marbled cut of beef, pork or lamb, you can marinate for flavor, which helps to enhance the intramuscular fat, resulting in a more flavorful cut.
Marinades are a quick and easy way to tenderize meat and enhance flavor. Foods containing acids (e.g. citrus juices, yogurt, wine) or enzymes (e.g. fresh ginger, papaya) soften (tenderize) proteins, while spice rubs and pastes add flavor.
Flat cuts of meat, such as a flank steak, benefit most from marinades since the liquid penetrates only about 1/4 inch into the meat. The simplest application method for a marinade that involves liquid, is to use a heavy duty zip-top plastic bag. Place the meat in the bag, using 1/4-1/2 cup of marinade per 1 to 2 pounds of meat; squeeze out as much air as possible to ensure the marinade makes contact with all surfaces of the meat.
For tenderizing, marinate for at least 6 hours, and no more than24 hours (to avoid a mushy texture). For flavor, marinate 15 minutes to 2 hours. After removing the meat from the bag, the remaining marinade goes in the trash! Don’t be tempted to reuse it for sauce. If you want sauce, separate a portion of the marinade before it comes in contact with raw meat. And always pat the meat with a paper towel to remove excess marinade before placing on the grill or in a skillet. This step prevents the meat from steaming when cooked, which will result in a tough texture.
And finally, cook to the desired degree of doneness.