Chef's Blog

November 9, 2015

Point / Counterpoint: Marinades are a Waste of Your Time

from Chef George Sideras

I ran across an article by Russ Parsons, food writer for the LA Times. He’s a very knowledgeable writer and I found his piece, “The truth about marinades: Most are a waste of your time”, particularly interesting. What it says, in summation, is that marinades don’t contribute to the overall flavors of food and can be harmful to the texture.

Case in point: With few exceptions, marinades won’t do much more than coat the surface of the meat and surely won’t penetrate more than the outside eighth of an inch. Why? That’s because meat is made up mostly of water (about 75% by weight). As we all know water and oily marinades don’t mix.

In regards to tenderizing, he goes on to point out that highly acidic baths (like lemon juice) denature proteins – essentially unwinding the tightly balled strands – which results in softer meat. However, since marinades rarely penetrate beyond the surface you actually end up with the outside being overly tender while the inside remains mostly untouched. For tougher cuts, the recommendation is to simply slice the meat thin before or after grilling.

How are marinades used in your kitchens?

The truth about marinades: Most are a waste of your time Russ Parson

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