Marinating meat before you cook it is one way to tenderize the meat and add flavor. Using a marinade allows you to make a flavorful meal from a tougher, less-expensive cut of meat. Olive oil and red wine combine to make a useful marinade for beef cuts such as chuck or shoulder roasts or steaks. Add your choice of seasonings and herbs, such as garlic or oregano, to the marinade to further flavor the meat.
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How Marinades Work
Marinades consist of an acid, such as red wine; an oil, such as olive oil; and flavorings. The acid helps break down proteins in the tough fibers of meat. The oil acts as a carrier for the flavorings in the marinade. As the acid works on meat fibers, it opens gaps in the fibers and allows the oil to seep into the meat, carrying the flavor of the seasonings with it.
Process of Marinating
The tougher the meat and the larger the cut, the longer you can safely marinate it. Marinate a whole roast or a large steak overnight, but marinate chicken or fish only 30 minutes or so. Place the meat in a resealable plastic bag and pour in your red wine and olive oil marinade. Seal the bag and turn it over a few times to distribute the marinade over the meat. Put it in the refrigerator and turn it over several times during the marinating period.
Wine and Oil
You can use any red wine for marinating meat. Chef Bobby Flay recommends a dry red, such as a cabernet. Use any good-quality olive oil. You don't have to spring for extra virgin; an all-purpose oil will do. Mix four parts wine with one part oil.
Always refrigerate meat while it's marinating. Harmful bacteria could grow on meat left out on the counter. Discard any marinade left in the bag when you're finished marinating the meat. Marinade that's been in contact with raw meat could contain bacteria, which could make you sick. If you want to use some marinade to baste the meat or as a dipping sauce, reserve a cup or so of marinade before you pour it over the raw meat.