Successes with Sauces and Marinades

Successes with Sauces and Marinades

Marinade vs. Rub 
Knowing when to use a marinade vs. seasoning your meat with a rub or sauce can be a tough. Here is the secret…. a marinade typically helps to break down tougher connective tissues in well exercised muscle groups. When we say “well exercised” we are generally referring to a cut that comes from a hard-working muscle such as the shoulder, ham (butt) or the shank/hock. Often these cuts require much longer cooking times to get that "fall off the bone" and tender result. 

On the other hand, tender cuts do not require this extra step of marinating to make them succulent. In fact marinating a tender like a bone-in or boneless loin chop can do more harm than good if left too long. A case of mushy or mealy meat is the result of an acidic bath of a marinade breaking down too much tissue. In short, the secret to success with tender cuts is a rub or sauce, not a marinade! 

Make Your Own: 
Creating a sauce or marinade shouldn’t be complicated. Just think about your likes and dislikes, keep it simple and follow two rules. 

The first rule is control. Don’t let your pork chop go swimming in the deep end. You don’t need a gallon of sauce for only a few ounces of meat to make it taste delicious. If you build your sauce or marinade correctly, a little will go a long way. And because our heritage breed meats are more flavorful than commodity cuts, you want to make sure you actually taste the meat! 

The second rule is balance of tastes. Salt, Sweet, Bitter, Sour and Umami are the five basic tastes that the tongue is sensitive to. To achieve this balance, you can use different ingredients to fulfill each flavor. Sweetness comes from sugars that are either naturally occurring or added in. If there is too much sugar one runs the risk of burning dinner. Salt intensifies the taste of a dish, but with too much, it’s all your tongue will taste. Sour is a key to many great recipes as it helps make the sweets more bearable. Bitterness is one taste that may overwhelm all of the others if not respected. Lastly, Umami is a crucial taste that everyone finds difficult to explain, but without it there we are often wondering what is missing.

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