The Telltale Signs Of Over-Marinating, According To Sunny Anderson - Exclusive

Just as any successful fantasy football season requires great players, a good barbecue season must include a star lineup of meat marinades. Herby, citrusy, spicy, garlicky, soy-sauce-heavy — we won't pick favorites here at Tasting Table. We are, however, sticklers for doing it right.

Undermarinating is an easy fix. In the rush of the furious prep that goes into a spectacular BBQ day, you may have forgotten to allot the recommended thirty minutes to two hours to get a steak or chicken juiced up and grill-ready. No stress — just wait. But what about if you let your meat sit in your favorite marinade for more than 24 hours? If you did, tender may turn mushy on the grill, and you might serve yourself a protein-rich meal with an extra dose of dangerous bacteria.

It's possible to overdo it — in which case, it's hard to turn back the clock. Tasting Table turned to "BBQ Brawl" host Sunny Anderson for the telltale signs of excessively-marinated meat. "Over-marinating, which people don't realize can actually happen, is one of the biggest mistakes people can make," Anderson told us in an exclusive interview. Texture and color are the two telltale signs of over-marinated meat. "If it's beef and it's over-marinated, the edges start to gray or whiten, and the same for chicken," Anderson told us. "Chicken gets hard and tough and rigid ... Same thing with beef."

If your texture is off, your marinade might be too acidic, per Sunny Anderson

There's another meat marinade faux pas you may be committing if your steak comes off the grill with a less-than-perfect texture. When making a marinade yourself, "BBQ Brawl" host Sunny Anderson told us, you should always pay attention to balance. Orange juice, lemon juice, and vinegar are terrific marinade ingredients, but you must balance out the acidity with alkalinity (which comes from ingredients like oils, creams, or milks). If you don't, the Food Network Star warned, the acidic ingredients in your marinade will "change the texture of the meat" by eating at its protein bonds.

If you're a marinade novice, stick to tried-and-true recipes before experimenting on your own. Try, for example, Anderson's chimichurri-like green marinade (a recipe she once shared with Rachael Ray). In this recipe, olive oil balances out red wine vinegar, and herby elements like parsley and cilantro balance out the spicy — hot paprika and black pepper.