The Finishing Rule To Remember Before Marinating A Cut Of Meat

We've all been there — you make a killer marinade for pork chops, chicken thighs, skirt steak, or what have you. You taste it before the meat goes in, and it is vibrant and piquant — just bursting with flavor. So, in goes the meat for an overnight bath. The next day, you take the meat out to cook and look at all that marinade. It seems a shame to let it all go to waste, but can it be used any further now that it has co-mingled with raw meat? The short answer is no, not as it is. But let's go back in time to see how that delicious marinade might be used better.

If you've made a marinade that you know would be killer sauce for your finished product, press pause before you drop in the meat. Depending on how much you've made and need to marinate the meat properly, reserve an untainted bit for the last act. You shouldn't need all that; a few tablespoons for a modest portion up to a mere half-cup or so for more generous servings should do the trick. And, if you know you'll want some meatless marinade before you even whip it up, adjust the proportions of the ingredients to produce just a bit extra.

Safety is key

Some foolhardy folk will try to convince you that used marinades can still be used as a baste for the meat during cooking. While technically accurate, it's a slippery slope that could result in food poisoning. A marinade that has come in contact with raw meat is safe if you are basting very early in the cooking process, where extant microbes are sure to be eliminated by the heat of cooking. But knowing how long that will take and when you've passed the point of no return with your meat can lead to cautious overcooking at best and illness at worst. It's best to be on the safe side by tossing the used marinade and getting into the habit of reserving some for basting or a finishing sauce.

If you truly hate the idea of tossing that marinade, one thing can be done. The used marinade can be poured into a saucepan and boiled for five minutes to kill off harmful microbes. That said, you'll likely want to strain it to remove any stray pieces of meat or large chunks of additions like garlic, scallions, or chilies. Also, keep it constantly moving if it is a sweet marinade, as it may burn and stick to the pan. Remember to keep your cookouts delicious — and safe — with these tips for getting the most out of your marinade.