So, you’ve come back home and you want to make something nice and quick to eat. The grill usually provides the answer. Throwing some meat or fish onto the grill allows you to get your cooking done quickly, plus it means your draining unhealthy fats away from the meat to boot.
That makes it a great choice for the health conscious. But there’s a catch. Grilling doesn’t always do the best job of locking the flavour into your meats. In fact, many people prefer frying because it allows them to cook juicier meats that, while less healthy, taste amazing.
All is not lost. There’s a way for you to enjoy the benefits of grilling without losing any of that all-important flavour.
We’re talking, of course, about marinating your meat and fish before cooking. We’re sure many of you already do this with oil or something similar. But did you know that you can create an Italian red wine marinade for use in cooking too?
Before we get to that, let’s look at what marinating is and why you might want to do it.
What is Marinating?
The marination process is as simple as they come. It involves taking your meat or fish, and allowing it to soak in a liquid for a while before you cook it.
Of course, the liquid matters. Ideally, your marinade will have some form of seasoning, which soaks into the meat as it lies in the liquid. Furthermore, the liquid should have some degree of acidity. This breaks down some of the meat or fish’s tissues, allowing it to soak in the marinade more and become juicier. Balance is key here though, as too much acidity results in a marinade that detracts from the meat’s natural qualities.
It’s all about imbuing the meat with new flavours via a process of immersion. That mention of acidity should also set some alarm bells ringing in your head.
What liquid contains acid and a host of interesting flavours?
We’re talking about Italian wine, of course.
The Benefits of Marinating Meat and Fish
There are plenty of benefits of marinating meat and fish, some of which relate to cooking and others of which relate to health. Here are a few of them.
Perhaps the main reason that people marinate is because it lends flavour to their meats and fish. Marinades contain various seasonings, which the soaking process ensures gets into the meats. In the case of red wine, you have the benefit of soaking your meats in a drink that contains all sorts of subtle notes. One wine may lend the food a smoky flavour, whereas others may add a tinge of fruit. There’s plenty of room to experiment and explore.
“What are HCAs?”, we hear you ask.
HCA stands for heterocyclic amines and they’re produced whenever you grill food. They’re especially prevalent when using an open flame.
The problem with HCAs is that they’re carcinogens, which means they can increase your risk of getting cancer.
Surprisingly, marinating your meat beforehand seems to play a role in preventing HCAs from escaping into the air. An acidic marinade can block as much as 99% of all HCAs because they prevent them from forming on the meat.
This is why many lean towards vinegar and citrus when creating their marinades. However, wine’s high acid content also makes it an excellent choice if you’re worried about the effects that regular grilling may have on your health.
On top of all of that, acidic marinades have another health benefit. They can stem the growth of bacteria on the meat, proving especially effective against listeria.
Everybody knows that the more tender the meat or fish, the better it tastes. Many chefs even beat their steaks to tenderise them before cooking. It’s what creates that melt in your mouth sensation that so many of us love from the meats that we eat.
Marinading your food serves the same purpose. As mentioned before, a marinade’s acid will break down some of meat’s tissues, making the meat more porous in the process. This not only enables the meat to better soak in the flavours of the marinade, but it also makes it tenderer.
So, marinades work by not only gifting additional flavours to the meat, but also improving their texture for when it’s time to eat.
A Red Wine Marinade Recipe
So now you know some of the benefits, it’s time to make your own red wine marinade.
Luckily, it’s simple to make. Some people even avoid adding anything to their wine, allowing their meat or fish to marinate in the wine alone. This won’t cause any problems, but it will mean that the taste of the wine becomes more prominent in the meat. Whether or not that’s a good thing is entirely up to you.
For those who want to create a special marinade for their meat dishes, here’s what you’ll need.
- A third of a cup of red wine. You may want to use table wine for this, so there’s something to be said for experimenting with different wines to see what flavours they produce.
- Half a cup of vegetable or olive oil.
- A couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Two minced garlic gloves.
- A quarter teaspoon each of black pepper and dried thyme. Of course, you can experiment with other seasonings too, depending on your preferences.
Making the marinade couldn’t be easier. Just put all of your ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. You’re done when you have a nice, thick liquid.
After that, place your meat or fish into a plastic bag and place it into the marinade. Then, wait. Two hours should do the job, though you may want to wait longer to really let it soak in.
If you have a big cut of meat or fish, just adjust the ingredients as needed to make sure you have enough marinade to soak them in.
And that’s all there is to it. You’ll have a marinade that offers everything that your Italian red wine offers, with a few extra flavours on the side.
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