If you're tired of preparing steak the same old way, the next time you have a slab of beef in your kitchen, consider using a marinade to mix things up a bit. Steak marinades are capable of transforming a plain piece of meat into an unforgettable meal. They add flavor, moisten the meat and even tenderize it, in some cases. Marinades typically consist of an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice, oil and some kind of seasoning. Ingredients that work well in steak marinades include vinegar, wine and spirits, herbs, and fruit.
According to a study published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry," steak marinades that contain beer are good for you because the malt and hops in beer reduce the formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines, which have been linked to cancer. In addition to providing you with health benefits, beer marinades give steak a distinct flavor. You can marinate steak in beer alone or add additional ingredients, such as barbecue sauce, soy sauce or honey.
Simple steak marinades that contain oil, vinegar and seasonings are popular because vinegar breaks down the proteins in meat, allowing the flavors of the marinade to penetrate it. Although distilled white vinegar is sufficient, you're better off using a flavorful specialty vinegar, such as balsamic vinegar or red-wine vinegar.
Wine marinades give steak a robust flavor. The rule of thumb, however, is that you should only use wine in a steak marinade if you also enjoy drinking wine. Otherwise, you may find that the flavor doesn't suit your tastes. To make a steak marinade with wine, simply add a splash of it to a mixture of oil and seasoning.
If you want to give your steak a little heat, try adding some horseradish to a marinade. Not only can horseradish marinade give your steak a kick, it can also provide you with numerous health benefits. According to a study from the University of Illinois, horseradish contains substances that increase your resistance to cancer.
Steak marinades containing fruit are popular because savory ingredients and sweet, tangy fruits make a scrumptious combination. Fruits that can be used in steak marinades include oranges, cranberries, blueberries, nectarines and peaches. If you want to tenderize your steak with fruit marinade, use fruits that contain protein enzymes, such as figs, honeydew melon, papaya or pineapple. Protein enzymes help to break down the protein in steak.
If you want to give your steak an Asian twist, soy sauce adds tons of flavor to steak while eliminating the need for you to add salt to a marinade. Ingredients that are complementary to soy sauce include black pepper, olive oil, garlic and vinegar. You can also combine soy sauce with pineapple juice to create a tangy, Hawaiian-style marinade.
Garlic is a pungent seasoning that packs a punch, and it can liven up an otherwise unremarkable steak marinade. Ingredients with which you can combine garlic to make a delicious steak marinade include soy sauce, honey, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.
Add a hint of sweetness to a steak marinade with honey, a flavorful natural sweetener. Honey tastes particularly delightful when you blend it with spicy or savory ingredients. It also helps to bring out steak's beefy flavor and create a caramelized exterior.
Black pepper can give your steak marinade a spicy kick. To maximize a black pepper steak marinade's flavor, use freshly ground black peppercorns.
Using steak marinade with yogurt is an effective way to tenderize tough cuts of meat because the calcium in yogurt activates enzymes in the beef that break down its protein. Another benefit of using yogurt is that its thick consistency allows seasonings to stick to the meat, so you can leave the marinade on the steak while you grill it.
- Fine Cooking: Marinades Add Flavor But Don't Always Tenderize; Shirley Corriher
- Fairie's Finest: Marinades Made Easy
- Oprah: The Way to Grill a Healthy Steak; Steven Raichlen; July 2009
- Country Living: 1 Marinade, 4 Ways!; David Masello
- ACES News: A Little Dab of Horseradish Could Help Resist Cancer; Mosbah Kushad; March 2005
- Easy Steak Marinades: Three Reasons to Use Steak Marinade
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