An article giving you some useful tips on how to season your meat like a pro. Whether you are a novice or confident, there is something for everyone.
When it comes to cooking meat, some foundations need to be laid down right before we get to the cooking stage.
From a Caribbean perspective, your choice of meat should always be cleaned. I recently wrote an article discussing the importance of cleaning your meat before hand.
Now I'm going to discuss just how equally important seasoning the meat is.
Why is it important to season meat?
Seasoning meat isn't something you do because society tells you to. It also isn't something that you do for appearance sake either.
Seasoning the meat is a great method for adding more depth and flavour to your meat during the cooking process.
It sort of intensifies the natural flavour of food without compromising it.
Especially when your are browning (searing) meat, the seasoning will form a crust and the juice from the meat will extract which in turn helps to develop its flavour.
You can even conduct your own experiment by tasting seasoned meat vs unseasoned to see which one you prefer.
Most people will have a preference for food that is seasoned because the seasoning will trigger your tastebuds.
Seasoning isn't just about adding an array of herbs and spices to your meat.
You also need to take into account when cooking the meat, what the meat tastes like which is why I always recommend doing a taste test during/after cooking.
Everyone has their own sense of smell/taste and the taste of food can alter as it is being cooked.
You also want to use either a bowl that is large enough to accommodate the meat or a secure bag such as a ziplock or resealable bag.
Keep your meat refrigerated and covered during the marinating process, don't leave it open to the air.
How long should you marinate meat for?
The answer to this question really depends on what seasoning you are using. For instance, let's say you are seasoning some steak.
Let's use my recipe, which requires tenderising the steak with citrus.
The use of citrus can actually alter the texture of the meat (soft and mushy) therefore you wouldn't want it resting on the meat for too long.
Aside from that example, if you have the time, most of the time it's best to marinate meat overnight.
This gives the marinade/seasoning the best opporunity to permeate and really absorb into the meat.
You will see that my resting time for seasoning/marinate sometimes vary. I'm more of an overnight type of girl as best practice.
Some recipes such as my Jamaican Curry Shrimp, can be cooked almost immediately.
While others such as the Jamaican Curry Goat recommend at least several hours or overnight if possible.
As a general rule of thumb leaving meat to season for longer is always best. If for whatever reason you cannot commit to this, unless the recipe states otherwise, try to aim for atleast 1 hour minimum.
How to tenderise and permeate meat
Tenderising is as equally as essential and works in tandem with seasoning meat.
When we tenderise meat, what we are doing is helping to break down the connective tissue which allows the marinade and seasoning to be absorbed a lot better.
This is an extremely great technique for cheap cuts of meat.
There are a few ways that you can do this but these are my preferred methods;
Use a rolling pin/mallet - Place the meat on a chopping board, cover it completely with saran wrap/cling film and gently hit the meat in different places with your mallet/rolling pin to break down the tissue.
Pounding works best with small cutlets, particularly meat that is boneless and/or if you plan on searing the meat first.
Fruit Juice - Any type of fresh, pure fruit juice will do i.e pineapple, papaya, orange etc.. leave the meat to sit in fruit juice. The enzymes of the fruit juice will breakdown the protein making the meat more tender (Do this for no longer than 2 hours).
Poke holes - This is the method that my family use the most, this is more for the benefit of marinating rather than tenderising.
Using a long tined fork to pierce the meat. Small holes allow the seasoning/marinade to penatrate deeper into the meat.
Some people do argue that by poking holes in the meat that you loose the juices of the meat and that it can lead to drying it out and thus resulting in being tough.
I cannot say that has been my experience, but there is no harm in trying it for yourself.
How to season/marinate the meat
- Make sure the meat is washed and blot dry with paper towels.
- Place the meat in a bowl that is big enough to accommodate the meat and set aside.
- Place each piece of meat on a chopping board (I'm using boneless chicken thighs for this example)
- Cover the meat with saran wrap and proceed to pound it with your mallet.
- Repeat the above step with the rest of the meat.
- Use a long tined fork to pierce holes into the meat (this is an optional step).
- Add your seasoning to the bowl of chicken. For this example I am creating a wet rub using Caribbean Green Seasoning, All Purpose Seasoning, ginger, onion and garlic, black pepper and pink salt.
- Use your hands (you can wear gloves for this) to work the wet rub into the chicken, ensuring everything is coated.
- Cover the bowl with saran wrap/cling film.
- Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
More posts you may like
- How to Store Herbs and Spices
- Caribbean Foodie 101
- How to Lead a Healthier Caribbean Lifestyle
- Learn All About What The Caribbean Is
- Caribbean National Dishes
- How to Keep Fruit From Turning Brown
Recipes you can try tenderising
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