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How To Properly Marinate Beef

While some may argue that marinating beef is a way to ruin an already good thing, there are actually a few different reasons for soaking your beef in marinade. The most common reason is to add flavor and increase the tenderness of tougher cuts of beef. In today’s blog, we are going to discuss how to properly marinate beef. 

The Beef Marination Process

#1 Choosing Your Meat

When marinating to tenderize, you will want to start with a tougher cut of meat that has little fat content. Some common cuts of beef for marinating are sirloin, skirt, round, and flank. 

#2 Defrosting Your Meat    

Now that you have chosen the cut of beef you are marinating, it is time to defrost the meat (if frozen). A common mistake that people make is rushing the defrost process. Seal the beef and place in the refrigerator. Marinated beef is something you have to plan ahead for. You will want to make sure that the beef is completely defrosted at least 12 hours before you are planning to cook it. 

#3 Cutting Your Meat

When you are working with thick, low fat content beef cuts, you will want to take a knife and cut small slits into the surface of both sides of the meat. You can also do this by stabbing the beef with a fork, which may be easier with some cuts of meat that are not as tough. This will allow the marinade to spread throughout the meat to soften and flavor into the middle as well. Once done, place the beef in a plastic bag and set aside.

#4 Making Your Marinade

This is where creativity comes into play. Recipes for marinades are endless and easily customizable to your liking. There are a few key ingredients that you must incorporate to create an effective marinade. 

  • Salt - This is the not so secret ingredient that allows the marinating process to work properly. Salt draws out the juices within the beef, which leads to the beef absorbing the flavorful marinade — making it juicy, tender, and flavorful. Sometimes salt is substituted with sodium heavy alternatives such as soy sauce.
  • Oil - While oil’s job within the marinade is simple, it is a vital part. Oil is what brings our all the flavor from the herbs and spices that you will later add to your marinade. No matter how many spices you add, you won’t receive the full effect of their flavor without oil. 
  • Sugar - You may think that sugar is misplaced in marinade as you are shooting for savory over sweet. In reality, sugar will not only balance out the acidity of marinades that are made with bases such as vinegar, but it also elevates the savory taste by adding that contrasting flavor. If you are looking for a substitute for straight sugar, consider maple syrup or honey. 
  • Herbs and Spices - Don’t go light on your herbs and spices! There’s nothing more frustrating than putting in the work of marinating to get very little flavor out of your end-result. As we mentioned above, there’s really endless possibilities when it comes to flavoring your marinade. Have some fun with it and take some risks, you might just find your new favorite flavor combination. 

#5 Marinating Your Meat

Now that you have your marinade mixed, pour it into the plastic bag with the beef. Massage the bag and meat with your hands to ensure that the beef is entirely coated with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator for two to 24 hours depending on the strength and acidity of your marinade.

  • Strong and Acidic Marinades - When you have a strong marinade that is very acidic, you will not want to marinate it as long. A few hours is all you need. If marinated for too long, it will cause the meat to toughen again and have too strong of a flavor. 
  • Weaker and Less Acidic Marinades - If you have a more neutral marinade that is not heavily acidic, then you’ll want to leave the beef to marinate overnight or longer (up to 24 hours). This will give you the juicy tenderness that you are looking for.

#6 Cooking Your Marinated Meat

Remove your marinated beef from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Discard the excess marinade. Be sure to cook the meat immediately. Using your desired method, cook the beef to the appropriate temperature. 

The Beef Matters

While marinade can add delicious flavors and tenderize tough cuts of beef, the quality of beef you use does make a difference. Keller Crafted Meats provides you with high-quality, pasture-raised beef that is sent straight to your home. 

Order a specific cut or sign up for a meat club subscription box like the Lost Coast Pasture Raised Grass Finished Beef to enjoy fresh beef year round for your marinating adventures. Contact us today if you have any questions or to learn more about our beef!