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Substituting Dried Herbs for Fresh

Using Marinade to Cook Meat

Q: I have been marinading some Tri-tip*, and am now ready to cook it.  Is it safe to cook it in the marinade?

-- Brieanna

Marinade can be used to stew, braise or baste meat provided that it is boiled to kill any bacteria that may have transferred from the meat.  To make a classic French Boeuf en Daube, cubes of beef are marinaded in red wine, herbs and onions, browned and then stewed in the wine from the marinade.  In lots of barbecue recipes, the marinade is boiled and then used to baste the meat during cooking.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Always heat the marinade to a boil, either while stewing or braising the meat or in a saucepan prior to using to baste.
  • Protein from the meat may dissolve into the marinade and  turn the final sauce cloudy as it cooks.  This does not affect the flavor, however.
  • Dairy-based marinades may curdle.  In general, they should be used to make a quick pan sauce after the meat is fully cooked and should never be brought to a hard boil.
  • Marinades with sugar or other sweet ingredients are more likely to burn, giving a bitter taste to the dish.  If used for a baste, they should only be applied in the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Strongly flavored marinades may overpower the taste of the finished dish, especially if they are reduced during cooking.

(* For those who may not be familiar with the cut, Tri-tip is a small roast, usually 1½ to 2 pounds taken from the bottom of the sirloin primal.  There are only two Tri-tips per animal.   Tri-tip is also known as the "bottom sirloin tip" or the "triangle roast", due to its triangular shape.)

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