6

Last night I made some lovely chicken. However the flavour from the marinade was lacking and spotty. Some parts of the chicken (drumsticks) were quite flavourful, while in others the flavour was more in the background almost like an after thought.

Now, a quick note - I normally cook using dry rubs as opposed to marinades, but like most of my other questions I am trying to broaden my horizons and add tools to my "culinary tool kit".

Below is my procedure and then my question.

Procedure

  • Rinsed chicken
  • Made marinade (500ml mango juice, 6 fresno peppers with seeds, salt and pepper, 3 green onions, a dash of soy sauce)
  • Placed chicken in container and poured the marinade over the chicken so that it was all submerged and shook briefly to make sure it was well mixed
  • Placed in the fridge for (what was supposed to be 4 hours, but ended up being 24 -- long story)
  • Place on BBQ, lightly salted, and cooked at a temperature (approx. 375F - it varied occasionally to turn but was generally around 375F for 90% of the time on the grill).

Question

Despite sitting in the marinade for so long the flavour didn't "uptake" well, and did so unevenly across the meat. My questions below - I feel all have the same underlying cause.

  • How can I better ensure that the flavour seeps into the meat more uniformly?
  • How do I prevent "spotty" flavouring in the future?
  • Would poking the chicken, just to break the skin, have helped?
  • 1
    That's a raher controversial subject. You may enjoy reading cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/39436/…, one of the nicer examples we have for self-answered questions on the site. – rumtscho Sep 17 at 14:41
  • 2
    It is controversial in the sense that there are many people out there who swear that marinade can and does penetrate chicken to the core, and there are many people who swear that it is a pure surface treatment and any taste you get is due to your mouth mixing up the surface with the insides. I suspect that every answer we get will be informed by the poster belonging to one camp or the other. – rumtscho Sep 17 at 14:49
  • 2
    This kind of precise question writing is always welcome, with or without controversy in the background. I'll be interested to see how it works out with the expected effect on the answers. – rumtscho Sep 17 at 15:04
  • 1
    I did enjoy reading the answer to that potential duplicate question, and I think that the scientific fundamentals behind that answer potentially answer this question, but it might be not clear for someone without the proper academic background to correlate it – Juliana Karasawa Souza Sep 17 at 15:17
  • 2
    @JCrosby It's quite simple. Consider marination as a sort of cross-border arbitrage... – Sneftel Sep 17 at 15:39
6

The scientific foundation for this answer is in the fantastic post pointed out in the comments here.

  • How can I better ensure that the flavour seeps into the meat more uniformly?

Basically there are two parts to this problem, as pointed out by the other post - one part is the composition of your flavor components that you want to penetrate the meat, and as discussed at length in the original post, more lipossoluble molecules and smaller molecules penetrate the meat better; the other one is the surface area to volume ratio of your chicken, for the molecules that will have more difficulty in reaching the deep confines of the chicken, so in that case, the smaller pieces of chicken you use, the better.

This is essentially the scientific foundation for why wings and legs are more flavorful than breast, especially when it is a whole chicken.

  • How do I prevent "spotty" flavouring in the future?

Either change the composition of your marinade (this one is very water soluble and has a lot of big flavor molecules) or cut your chicken in smaller pieces (so the surface area to volume ratio is better).

If you want to change the composition of your marinade to include more oil-soluble substances, I advise you to use buttermilk as a liquid, since it has a larger oil-to-water ratio and it will be a better solvent for your additional spices and ingredients. For a suggestion on the ingredients, the chili family in general contains capsaicin which is liposoluble and gives the spicy kick; black pepper, anise, cloves and nutmeg all contain eugenol, which is a small molecule and also has a good solubility in fat and gives the aromatic aspect; you can also use roasted sesame oil for the smokey depth and an Asian-like feel.

  • Would poking the chicken, just to break the skin, have helped?

If it is just breaking the skin, not really. What really helps is injecting, so you get more surface for your brine to permeate the chicken.

  • 1
    See this! This I understand much better than the science-heavy answer you refer to. +1 for speaking in lay-terms. – J Crosby Sep 17 at 15:28
  • 1
    @JCrosby in hindsight, I also need to include some suggestions on ingredients you can use to change your marinade composition, I'll add it to the answer – Juliana Karasawa Souza Sep 17 at 15:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.