Here's Why You Need To Start Soaking Ground Meat In Heavy Cream

If you're fond of cooking chicken, you've most likely drawn upon the magical poultry-enhancing qualities of buttermilk. A traditional soak for Southern-style fried chicken and a star ingredient in recipe developer Samin Nosrat's internet-famous buttermilk-marinated roast chicken, buttermilk helps tenderize chicken, allowing seasonings in the marinade to penetrate the meat better. It is also loaded with sugars that caramelize once the bird is cooked (New York Times).

Even if you're familiar with buttermilk's marinating properties, you might not know that plain old milk is also used for soaking meat. According to SunFed Ranch, marinating beef in milk creates a lightly acidic bath for the meat, tenderizing it without breaking down its proteins too much. The calcium in the milk reacts with the enzymes in the meat to gently soften the proteins, facilitating another tenderizing process.

If buttermilk and milk work as meat marinades, heavy cream must work too, right? As it turns out, this fat-rich dairy product is an excellent choice for soaking ground meat.

A heavy cream soak helps ground meat stay moist

As noted by Lifehacker, dairy has a pretty magical effect on meat, tenderizing it without making it mushy, and helping it stay juicy when cooked. And although ground meat doesn't need any additional tenderizing — grinding takes care of that aspect — it certainly can benefit from extra moisture retention. After all, we've seen ground beef turn gray quickly in a hot pan, letting out a ton of liquid that would have contributed significantly to the taste of meat had it stayed inside.

Lifehacker explains that folding some heavy cream into ground meat helps protect the proteins from cooking too quickly and allows the meat to maintain its juiciness better. It's a trick chili cook-off competitor Jenn de la Vega uses in her cocoa coriander chili, notes Food52, and one pioneering American cookbook author James Beard employed in his favorite hamburger recipe.

To try the heavy cream marinade, mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons of heavy cream per pound of ground meat, and let it chill overnight in the fridge before proceeding with your favorite ground beef recipe. With heavy cream in the picture, you're sure to notice ground beef that browns more evenly and stays nice and moist.