Nerd Alert!

 

 

In thinking about what to do with these beautiful steaks from Tad, we asked our friend Christine from America's Test Kitchen about the fine art of marinading. She shared a few of Cook's Illustrated facts/hints/myths about this fine art. Get ready to nerd out over marinade.

"Over the years, we've encountered numerous marinade myths. Here are some of them—and why they're untrue.

MYTH: Marinades Penetrate Meat Deeply
FACT: Most Impact is Superficial
Contrary to popular belief, marinades do most of their work on the surface of meat or just below. Some ingredients in a marinade do penetrate the meat—but only by a few millimeters (and oil-soluble herbs and spices in the mix merely add flavor to the exterior). To prove the point, we soaked beef short ribs in red wine for intervals from one hour to 18, then measured the band of purple created by the wine. Our finding? Even after 18 hours of soaking, the wine penetrated less than 1 millimeter. Additional testing with marinated boneless chicken breasts confirmed that the flavors of other kinds of soaking liquids do not penetrate to the center of the meat.
MYTH: Acids Tenderize Meat
FACT: Acids Turn Meat Mushy
To tenderize meat, you have to break down muscle fiber and collagen, the connective tissue that makes meat tough, thus increasing the meat's ability to retain moisture. While acidic ingredients like citrus juice, vinegar, yogurt, buttermilk, and wine do weaken collagen, their impact is confined to the meat's surface. We find that if left too long, acids turn the outermost layer of meat mushy, not tender. To minimize mushiness, we use acidic components sparingly (or cut them out entirely) and only for short marinating times.
MYTH: The Longer the Soak, the Better
FACT: A Long Soak is Pointless—Even Detrimental
Because marinades don't penetrate deeply, a lengthy soak is pointless. Furthermore, too long a soak in an acidic (or enzymatic) marinade can weaken the protein bonds near the surface so that they turn mushy—or worse, can no longer hold moisture and dry out."

This is a great starter. For the full read, check out this article.

WHAT'S IN THE BAG?

HALF SHARE

Omnivore Protein
 - Sirloin Tip Steaks from Featherbrook Farms; Queso Fresco from Brookford Farm
Pescatarian Protein - Pollock Filets from Red's Best; Queso Fresco from Brookford Farm
Vegetarian Protein -  Plant Deli Chorizo; Queso Fresco from Brookford Farm
Paleo Proteins -  Sirloin Tip Steaks from Featherbrook Farms; Eggs from Brookford Farm
Fruits and Veggies - Romaine Lettuce, Savoy Cabbage and Summer Squash from Busa Farm; Garlic Scapes (heck yes!) from Clark Farm
Grain - Organic Corn Tortillas from Mi Tierra
Special Treat - Treats from Forge Baking Co


WHOLE SHARE

Omnivore Protein - Sirloin Tip Steaks and Chorizo from Featherbrook Farms; Queso Fresco and Eggs from Brookford Farm
Pescatarian Protein - Pollock Filets and Tuna Steaks from Red's Best; Queso Fresco and Eggs from Brookford Farm
Vegetarian Protein - Plant Deli Chorizo; Queso Fresco and Eggs from Brookford Farm
Paleo Proteins -  Sirloin Tip Steaks and Chorizo from Featherbrook Farms;  Eggs from Brookford Farm
Fruits and Veggies - Radishes, Romaine Lettuce, Savoy Cabbage and Summer Squash from Busa Farm; Cauliflower and Garlic Scapes (heck yes!) from Clark Farm
Grain - Organic Corn Tortillas from Mi Tierra; Parmesan Breadsticks from Iggy's Bread
Special Treat - Treats from Forge Baking Co


DOUBLE SHARE

Omnivore Protein - Pollock from Red's Best; Sirloin Tip Steaks and Chorizo from Featherbrook Farms; Queso Fresco and Eggs from Brookford Farm
Paleo Protein - Pollock from Red's Best; Sirloin Tip Steaks and Chorizo from Featherbrook Farms;  Eggs from Brookford Farm
Fruits and Veggies - Tomatoes, Radishes, Romaine Lettuce, Savoy Cabbage and Summer Squash from Busa Farm; Cauliflower and Garlic Scapes (heck yes!) from Clark Farm; Kale from Brookford Farm
Grain - Organic Corn Tortillas from Mi Tierra; Parmesan Breadsticks from Iggy's Bread
Special Treat - Treats from Forge Baking Co; Cream Honey from Northwoods Apiaries



RECIPES

Best Steak Marinade in Existence: Thats a lot to live up to, but it is really tasty. They can you can marinade for up to 8 hours but we think  30-60 minutes will do the trick. Then sear your steak in a cast iron and finish in the oven at 350.

A Girl and her Caesar:  Erin memorized this recipe from making it so many times. We double the garlic and the ground pepper, but that's just our tastes. This goes well on the Romaine or Kale from this week but also as a lovely finishing dressing to grilled veggies such as squash or cabbage.

Korean Steak Tacos: This multi-cultural dish sounds like something the government would want to build a wall around, but we need this in our lives. You could also get your squash into long spears and treat it the same as the steak. Get a nice char on it and it can stand in for the meat. 

Fried Fish Tacos: we just love to include this because we love to eat them until we need a nap.

Garlic Scape Butter: Garlic scapes are the stalks that grow from the bulb of a garlic plant.  They can be treated just like garlic, eat them raw, grilled or sauteed- they add a delicious bite to almost any dish. They make a beautiful pesto or a lovely compound butter for those steaks. Such a garlicky punch.

Simple Savoy Cabbage: Epicurious is a go-to place for simple, elegant dishes like this one. It calls for garlic cloves but throw the scapes in for an even punchier dish. The rest of your cabbage works nicely as a slaw for the tacos or in a quick meat sautee, below.

Chorizo and Charred Cabbage:  A tasty way to use the rest of your cabbage for weekday eats.

TIPS AND TRICKS
Measuring Meat Temp

We haven't talked about meat temperatures for a while, but we thought we should revisit since it's grilling season. The surest way to make sure your steaks, chicken, fish and other proteins are cooked properly is to measure the internal temperature of the meat.


Measure at the Right Spots
Note that smaller and leaner cuts of meat will cook faster than thicker and fattier cuts. This is especially true for steaks and fish. Poultry is even trickier, since the breasts will be done at around 150F while the dark meat cooks completely at 165F.  

Remember that you can always put it back on the grill, but you can't undo overdone steaks.  With this in mind, you'll want to take temperatures in a couple of different places, definitely in the parts that you think will cook fasted (for steaks, measure the thinnest pieces, for poultry, measure the breasts). Don't forget to let your meat rest after it reaches the right temperature - this will help it retain moisture as it returns to serving temperature.  

When is it done?
Note that these are temperature guidelines that we use in our kitchen to measure doneness. The USDA recommends slightly higher temperatures for food safety (which will result in cooking your burgers and steak to well-done). 

  • Poultry - 150-155F for breasts, 165F for thighs
  • Pork - 145F for medium-rare loins and chops, 195F for fall-off-of-the-bone roasts
  • Sausages and Ground Meat - 160F
  • Beef - 125F for rare, 130F for medium-rare, 135F for medium... Don't ask us about well-done. That's just not right.. and please don't invite us to your BBQ.


I need to buy a meat thermometer on the internet right now.
You are not alone. We are here for you. Tim also has an impulsive internet gadget shopping problem. We've used the ThermoPop in our kitchen and love it because it's digital, waterproof, and it will measure very high temperatures, making it useful for measuring oil temperature when frying, or as a candy thermometer.