Great tasting meat relies on flavor and proper cooking technique. Follow these 10 tips to elevate the flavor and taste of what’s on your plate!
#1. Fat is flavor. The fattier cuts of meat like chicken thighs and rib-eye bring natural flavor inside the fatty marbling. Those are my two favorite cuts by the way. And they also do well retaining natural moisture, which means they don’t dry out as easily. I stopped eating chicken breasts when I leaned the fat in the chicken thighs is actually healthy fat! This week you also saw I used "skirt-steak" not flank steak in grilling Carne Asada, because it's fattier too!
#2 Marinade, rub or brine? It depends on the cut. Why? Because flavor is only achieved by penetrating the muscle fibers of the meat. Thin cuts benefit most from a marinade. Thick cuts need a rub to best penetrate outer layer to add flavor. And the largest of all, like a whole turkey or chicken, will always do best in either a brine or a rub.
#3 Salt is required! Why? Salt dissolves the tough meat fibers and infuses the flavor! Two teaspoons of Diamond Crystal kosher salt is typically enough to add to a marinade or rub for 2 pounds of meat. Without the salt, it doesn’t matter how long you marinade the flavor transfer isn’t the same.
#4 Marinade time is determined by the ingredients. Acidic ingredients like citrus, vinegar, buttermilk or yogurt will weaken the collagen surface, which is great for quick flavor penetration. But beware! Don’t leave the meat marinading in one of these solutions too long, otherwise it will turn to mush! Same is true for the enzymes found in papaya and pineapple. Watch the time. I’ve learned 3 hours is just enough time to allow the flavors to penetrate in any marinade.
#5 Packaged marinade mixes and salad dressings commonly use unhealthy oils. And add sugar and yeast as appetite stimulants. Skip the sweeteners, gums, thickeners and artificial flavor chemical concoctions they use and make your own authentic flavors at home.
#6 Towel dry the meat before grilling. Use a paper towel to absorb the wet liquid marinade and toss out the excess marinade. Why? Wet meat on the grill limits the flavor transfer from the fire or smoke. If you want the nice charcoal grill marks, the meat needs to be dry before it hits the grill.
#7 Keep the skin on while it cooks for a natural basting of fat and flavor. It also helps to retain moisture!
#8 Watch temperature, not time because time depends on cooking temperature and cut. Temperature is the most accurate way to determine if the meat is cooked. Instant read thermometer is the only way to achieve perfect temperature. Cooking it too long will dry it out and also erases the infused flavors.
#9 Instant Read Thermometer is the most affordable temperature tool and the most flexible. You can puncture any surface of the meat, center, thigh or breast, and check the temperature. The long probe accommodates all types of meat too. Here's my favorite!
#10 Meater. Is more expensive, but worth every penny, when I want to cook an expensive cut of meat for a special holiday; because it provides temperature and cooking time estimates live on your phone and this information let’s me focus on other things, knowing I can be confident of a flawless outcome every time! I have this one, the Original.
Check the MEMBERS RESOURCES section for more of my favorite recommendations. And keep and eye out for more posts this month like “Beer Can Chicken” recipe, full of flavors and no “can” needed. And I’ll be providing more tips on spices too!