A Better Way to Marinate: Brinerate
Published June 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.
Marinating is often regarded as a cure-all for bland, chewy meat. We recommend soaking the meat in a seasoned liquid, or "brinerating" it.
Successful marinating is all about getting as much of the soaking liquid flavors into (and on) the meat as possible. Brining in saltwater solution is a way to create more juiciness. To pump up flavor as well as juiciness, our marinades combine both approaches, with soaking liquids that not only contain lots of seasonings and flavorings but so much salt, you might even call them "brinerades" (In fact, our marinades typically have two to three times more salt than our brines.) As in a brine, salt in a marinade affects meat in two ways. Through osmotic pressure it pulls moisture from a place of higher water concentration (the marinade) into a place with a lower one (the meat). In addition, it restructures the protein molecules in the meat, creating gaps that fill with water to further increase juiciness. It also seasons the meat, enhancing its inherent flavors.