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Old 06-14-2006, 10:21 AM   #1
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What does soaking chicken in milk do?

So, why do we soak chix in milk proir to frying? I'm not talking about the coat of it, I mean like soaking it overnight. What does it do?

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Old 06-14-2006, 10:26 AM   #2
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I'm not sure about milk, but soaking in butter milk tenderizes the chicken. I suppose milk does the same thing.
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Old 06-14-2006, 10:50 AM   #3
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Charlie is right, soaking the chicken in milk, buttermilk and even yogurt tenderizes the chicken and makes it very moist.
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Old 06-14-2006, 12:42 PM   #4
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I am not going to say that the answers are wrong. Soaking chicken in dairy products is supposed to help tenderize meat. According to several internet sources, there is an enzyme in milk that helps denature meat protiens. But I am confused.

Let me explain. I am one who has to test cooking techniques and find out for myself if what is presented as fact is actually true. So I soaked both cut chicken pieces, and pork chops in milk for at least 15 hours. I fired up the grill and cooked them over charcoal as I normally would (covered with vents turned down, and over a solid bed of coals). The chicken and pork came out fine; moist, juicy, and tender. But what confuses me is that they were identicle to the same foods cooked with no brining, soaking, or marinating.

I have found that meats come out tender when they are cooked to the proper temperature, and that as they are taken above the point of being "just done", they tend to toughen and dry out. So I'm not convinced that brining or soaking meats in anything will help tenderize them. I will use soaking, brining, and marinating to add other flavors to the meat, especially brining with a solution of water, salt, and herbs/spices.

But again, there are supposedly scientific reasons why soaking in milk or buttermilk is supposed to tenderize meat. I would be interested in hearing other comparisons of meats cooked in identicle fasion, some soaked and some not. I did not do extensive testing. My hypothesis is based on quick evaluation provided by personal experience.

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Old 06-14-2006, 12:57 PM   #5
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I soak chicken in B-milk when making fried chicken, not to tenderize so much as to add that tangy flavor along with any spices I've added to B-milk.

I wonder if this came from the custom of soaking fish in milk to get rid of the 'fishy' smell? Maybe when there wasn't as much refrigeration and folks weren't as skeevy about chicken gone bad?
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Old 06-14-2006, 02:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodweed of the North

... I soaked both cut chicken pieces, and pork chops in milk I fired up the grill and cooked them over charcoal ...
Not sure,maybe I am wrong, but I don't think saoking meat in milk applies for grilling. I think it really is ment for further frying of meat.

And as far as pork goes i would ot bother soaking pork in anything, and definetely cook till it is medium rear and not even a bit more than that.
I would consider seasoning the pork and let it seat for few hours before grilling or marinading to achive sertain flavor, but not soaking, definitely not in milk.
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Old 06-14-2006, 03:27 PM   #7
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Question Question part 2 added

Most traditional southern fried chicken recipes have you soak the pieces in buttermilk for 2 or 3 hours before dredging in flour. Maybe in addition to adding tang to the end result, the acid breaks down the outside of the pieces enough to help the flour adhere. I don't claim to know this as scientific fact, but it's a good enough rationalization to keep me doing it the old fashion way.

I'd like to add a part two to the question.

A lot of the chicken, including the whole ones that go on sale around here, have been injected with a brine to increase the weight and maybe to make them juicier and more flavorful. How much I believe the second part varies day to day. It seems to me these chickens lose a lot of excess liquid shortly after they are cut up. Do any of you think it is worth the extra step of letting the pieces weep in the ice box for a few hours before soaking in buttermilk, or any thing else for that matter?
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Old 06-14-2006, 07:07 PM   #8
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I haven't noticed any real problems with putting them to soak right away, as opposed to letting them sit a while. But - I have started in the past year, buying 'natural' brands of chicken as they become more available in the supermarkets, and they're not injected with anything (that I know of!).
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Old 06-14-2006, 08:02 PM   #9
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One thing milk/buttermilk can do partly is to help take away the briney flavor that some chicken and pork has (depending on where you buy it from).

Like marmalady said, the better the quality of the product you buy, the less chance that it's been exposed/induced/injected with any foreign substances like a brine or other solution.
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Old 06-15-2006, 12:48 AM   #10
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BUMP!

c'mon, someone's gotta have a scientific explanation.

all i've found so far is that the lactic acid in milk is a mild meat tenderizer, and the sourness of buttermilk adds flavor, like marm said, as well as acting as the moisture for the breading to stick.
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Old 06-15-2006, 08:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckytom

c'mon, someone's gotta have a scientific explanation.
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Old 06-15-2006, 09:24 AM   #12
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I know, I know, I'm not Michael. Just read the attached link. Maybe that will help.


http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/pages/c00157.asp
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Old 06-15-2006, 09:26 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodweed of the North
I am not going to say that the answers are wrong. Soaking chicken in dairy products is supposed to help tenderize meat. According to several internet sources, there is an enzyme in milk that helps denature meat protiens. But I am confused.

Let me explain. I am one who has to test cooking techniques and find out for myself if what is presented as fact is actually true. So I soaked both cut chicken pieces, and pork chops in milk for at least 15 hours. I fired up the grill and cooked them over charcoal as I normally would (covered with vents turned down, and over a solid bed of coals). The chicken and pork came out fine; moist, juicy, and tender. But what confuses me is that they were identicle to the same foods cooked with no brining, soaking, or marinating.

I have found that meats come out tender when they are cooked to the proper temperature, and that as they are taken above the point of being "just done", they tend to toughen and dry out. So I'm not convinced that brining or soaking meats in anything will help tenderize them. I will use soaking, brining, and marinating to add other flavors to the meat, especially brining with a solution of water, salt, and herbs/spices.

But again, there are supposedly scientific reasons why soaking in milk or buttermilk is supposed to tenderize meat. I would be interested in hearing other comparisons of meats cooked in identicle fasion, some soaked and some not. I did not do extensive testing. My hypothesis is based on quick evaluation provided by personal experience.

Seeeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
Nice to see your posts again Goodweed. I am back in Traverse City, Michigan for the summer. I agree that chicken and pork benefit from brining or marinating and buttermilk has an effect on chicken. I like the taste better when it's soaked in buttermilk, but my favorite marinade for chicken is lemon juice, lots of it and Franks Hot Sauce. This combination gives chicken on the grill a fantastic flavor and tenderizes the chicken. Roasting chicken pieces with this marinade is also a great way to serve it. I save the marinade and baste the chicken every 15 minutes. Don't baste the last 10 minutes whether grilling or roasting to give the last dose of marinade a chance to cook. Awesome. And by the way Goodweed, your pancake recipe still remains a favorite at my house. If you haven't shared with these posters, please do so.
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Old 06-15-2006, 12:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drama Queen
Nice to see your posts again Goodweed. I am back in Traverse City, Michigan for the summer. I agree that chicken and pork benefit from brining or marinating and buttermilk has an effect on chicken. I like the taste better when it's soaked in buttermilk, but my favorite marinade for chicken is lemon juice, lots of it and Franks Hot Sauce. This combination gives chicken on the grill a fantastic flavor and tenderizes the chicken. Roasting chicken pieces with this marinade is also a great way to serve it. I save the marinade and baste the chicken every 15 minutes. Don't baste the last 10 minutes whether grilling or roasting to give the last dose of marinade a chance to cook. Awesome. And by the way Goodweed, your pancake recipe still remains a favorite at my house. If you haven't shared with these posters, please do so.
DQ; I've improved on the pancake recipe. Look under breads, cakes, etc. topic. I'll post the recipe there. I didn't know they could get any better, but they do. I'll explain in the post.
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Old 06-15-2006, 12:57 PM   #15
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Check out this link:

http://experts.about.com/q/Cooking-M...ted-Steaks.htm


This explanation makes sense and is in line with what Goodweed indicated. Indian food makes excessive use of yogurt in meat marination. Does it help tenderize the meat - No it does not but we normally add ginger along with yogurt and ginger has an enzyme that helps tenderize meat. The old wives tales will keep saying it's yogurt that causes the meat to tenderize even though it's ginger.

Yogurt and milk based products (I use sour cream, heavy cream, buttermilk etc.) does impart moisture to the meat. Indian chicken for example will never be cooked with the skin. We don't believe in eating the skin or crisping it up yet we love moist chicken like everyone else. The yogurt allows you to keep the chicken moist and actually you can reduce the marinade and make a thick gravy that can be poured over the chicken so it's super moist.

I am sure a food scientist will be along to impart their wisdom
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Old 06-15-2006, 02:24 PM   #16
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And overnight is too long to soak in buttermilk.
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Old 06-15-2006, 06:11 PM   #17
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Gretchen, I don't think overnight is too long; I do it all the time. Chicken's great.
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Old 06-15-2006, 07:38 PM   #18
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I've never really worried about tenderizing chicken. The only times I've had tough chicken is when it is overcooked, or once when someone mistakenly cooked a stewing chicken, thinking it was a broiler-fryer.

The only time I will soak chicken in buttermilk is when southern-frying it. After a several hour soak, the buttermilk imparts some of its tangy flavor to the meat, and also it leaves the pieces encased in a viscous buttermilk coating, which helps the spices adhere to it. (I season the chicken instead of the flour.)

I can't think of any good reason to soak chicken in plain-old milk. It wouldn't impart any flavor, and doesn't have the necessary viscosity to help much with the spices sticking.

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Old 06-16-2006, 12:38 AM   #19
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grrrrrr, no experts yet.


this has been on my mind all day.

from reading up on enzymes, i've summized that buttermilk, which is essentially milk who's lactose sugars have been turned into lactic acid by the work of a type of streptococcus lactis, is actually a marinade of a calcium rich mild acid which mostly imparts a tangy flavor, but doesn't toughen the flesh as a stronger acid might. in fact, it is theorized that the calcium in buttermilk activates enzymes that are present in the meat, thus breaking down it's own proteins or in other words, tenderizing it.

yoghurt is also considered a calcium rich - mildly acidic marinade.
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Old 06-16-2006, 01:32 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckytom
grrrrrr, no experts yet.


this has been on my mind all day.

from reading up on enzymes, i've summized that buttermilk, which is essentially milk who's lactose sugars have been turned into lactic acid by the work of a type of streptococcus lactis, is actually a marinade of a calcium rich mild acid which mostly imparts a tangy flavor, but doesn't toughen the flesh as a stronger acid might. in fact, it is theorized that the calcium in buttermilk activates enzymes that are present in the meat, thus breaking down it's own proteins or in other words, tenderizing it.

yoghurt is also considered a calcium rich - mildly acidic marinade.
Bucky,

How do you, and apparently most others around here define the term "expert"? Please understand, I am not attacking you. I am merely curious. It is just that so far, I have attempted to avoid the "NERD!" battlecry (just as I did in school) by not mentioning chemistry or physics, at least not often.

If the science of cooking is accepted, and in fact actually respected here, I am in heaven!

If this is so, I promise I won't be overbearing about it, but will just interject a snippet here or there.

Kelly
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