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Old 07-22-2015, 05:40 PM   #1
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Why are store-marinated meats so good?

Went camping recently and due to time constraints treated to some marinated chicken and steak tips. The steak tips had some kind of cowboy marindate and I think the chicken was lemon and garlic. What gets me is, I've tried marinading meats at home in the past. It's been so long, I can't remember exactly what I did. But they never come out as juicy as the ones you buy at butcher shops or in this case at McKinnons Market. They are just so juicy, doesn't matter if you over cook them for a little bit, and they are just so tender and melt in your mouth. My kids loved it and were begging for more. Is there some trick to this? Does anyone have any really good marinade instructions? Or any ideas around this.

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Old 07-22-2015, 05:46 PM   #2
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Interesting. I'll be honest, I've had store-marinated meats at other people's homes and I thought they didn't taste very good.

Brining helps make for juicier meat and poultry, so having a good amount of salt in any marinade will help make them juicier.
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Old 07-22-2015, 05:56 PM   #3
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You also have to consider how long these meats have been marinading before you actually use them.
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Old 07-22-2015, 07:50 PM   #4
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You also have to consider how long these meats have been marinading before you actually use them.
Exactly right Z, plus stores often marinate meat that's expired it's "sell by" date. It's a well known trick and that's the reason I will never buy it.

You can get the same results by buying fresh meat/chicken and marinating it more than a day. If you like the taste of the marinade, more than the taste of the meat, that's the answer.
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Old 07-22-2015, 07:59 PM   #5
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I wasn't trying to imply that all we liked was the marinade.

For example McKinnon's Market - Salem & Portsmouth NH, Danvers & Everett MA Grocery Stores was voted best butcher shop and deli for 4 years in a row in New Hampshire. that is where I bought the cowboy marindated steak tips and lemon pepper marinaded chicken. I'm just blown away at how good the meat is, how tender it is, how flavorful it is.

I would like to have a few TNT recipes at home but I don't any. If I've done anything in the past, I'm guessing it wasn't special enough to save.

I do remember a friend telling me that he has the best luck when he busy the little packets that have the instructions on mixing with oil and such and then he marinates his meats prior to freezing them and then the freezing process helps soak in the flavors.
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Old 07-22-2015, 08:06 PM   #6
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I wasn't trying to imply that all we liked was the marinade.

For example McKinnon's Market - Salem & Portsmouth NH, Danvers & Everett MA Grocery Stores was voted best butcher shop and deli for 4 years in a row in New Hampshire. that is where I bought the cowboy marindated steak tips and lemon pepper marinaded chicken. I'm just blown away at how good the meat is, how tender it is, how flavorful it is.

I would like to have a few TNT recipes at home but I don't any. If I've done anything in the past, I'm guessing it wasn't special enough to save.

I do remember a friend telling me that he has the best luck when he busy the little packets that have the instructions on mixing with oil and such and then he marinates his meats prior to freezing them and then the freezing process helps soak in the flavors.
Sounds like a great market Legend. I notice on that link under recipes, they have several recipes for marinade. Maybe you can find what you had there?
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Old 07-22-2015, 08:24 PM   #7
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Hi, Legend. Marinated beef and chicken can be really good, but sometimes there's too much of a good thing. I wouldn't marinate and then freeze, especially if there's citrus or other acids in the marinade - it changes the texture of the meat. I also shy away from store marinated meats - they're so salty and like Z mentioned, you don't know how long they've been sitting there in the display case.

Those little pre made packets are mostly salt, your best bet is to get yourself a package of chicken thighs, divide them up and freeze into portions, and start experimenting. There's lots of good ideas here on this marinade and sauce forum. Good luck and have fun!
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Old 07-22-2015, 09:48 PM   #8
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... I'm just blown away at how good the meat is, how tender it is, how flavorful it is.

I would like to have a few TNT recipes at home but I don't any. If I've done anything in the past, I'm guessing it wasn't special enough to save...
I wandered around the store website link you posted. Look what I found!

Recipes for marinade

375 different marinades to look at! I think someone is going to be busy...
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:03 AM   #9
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It is likely in this case that it is a good butcher shop that knows what it is doing that makes the difference.

If you have time drop by and have a talk with them, they might be willing to spill a secret or three.
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:18 AM   #10
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Freshly marinated meat from the butchers is one thing but marinated meat in sealed packages like the ones from Trader Joe's, for instance, are sometimes downright terrible.
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:55 AM   #11
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Interesting. I'll be honest, I've had store-marinated meats at other people's homes and I thought they didn't taste very good.

Brining helps make for juicier meat and poultry, so having a good amount of salt in any marinade will help make them juicier.
Agreed. This has been my experience as well. In the past, we've tried some of the deli-made marinated chicken and pork offerings. I'll admit they're a convenient shortcut, but I've always considered the texture of the meat to be mushy and the flavors a little strange.

Maybe I need to switch meat mongers.
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Old 07-23-2015, 01:09 PM   #12
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I shop at McKinnons on occasion. They have an astonishing quantity of packaged marinated meats, and not just a few items at the butcher counter. I’ll take a good guess that a lot of these items sit for a few days before they are sold. My limited experience is that you get some unusual textures and flavors with the pre-marinated meats, which I’ll attribute to the multi-day marinating process.

When I marinate meat for flavor it’s usually not more than an hour or two. I’ve read a lot of viewpoints that anything longer than that will start to change the texture of the meat (depending on the marinade), which is what you might want with tougher cuts of meat. My opinion is that pre-marinated chicken tends to be kind of mealy.
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:59 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by legend_018 View Post
Went camping recently and due to time constraints treated to some marinated chicken and steak tips. The steak tips had some kind of cowboy marindate and I think the chicken was lemon and garlic. What gets me is, I've tried marinading meats at home in the past. It's been so long, I can't remember exactly what I did. But they never come out as juicy as the ones you buy at butcher shops or in this case at McKinnons Market. They are just so juicy, doesn't matter if you over cook them for a little bit, and they are just so tender and melt in your mouth. My kids loved it and were begging for more. Is there some trick to this? Does anyone have any really good marinade instructions? Or any ideas around this.
People often misunderstand the difference between a marinade, and a brine. Marinades contain acid, which caused the proteins on the meat surface to tighten up and act as a barrier to any of the marinade flavor from entering more than just the outer layer of the meat. The general rule for marinades is - 15 minutes is as good as 15 days.

A brine is a solution of water and salt, usually with other flavors added, but no acid, like vinegar or wine. As the amount of salt in the brine is greater than what is found in the meat tissue, and all things seek to be equal in nature, osmotic pressure forced the salt water into the meat tissue, with the other flavors in the brine, be it sugar, or herbs and spices. This is how corned beef is made, as sell as most commercial bacon and ham (though in the bacon and ham, the brine is injected into the meat and allowed to distribute itself over time). But the process takes time, in the case of corned beef, a couple of weeks at refrigerator temperature. The meat absorbs more water, and the other flavors of the brine.

Extra hers, spices, and sometimes sugar, are used to coat the outside of the meat, allowing those flavors to be absorbed as well. So you get meat that is somewhat tenderized, and hydrated by the salt water, and flavored by the herbs, spices, and salt.

You now have the basic idea of how to brine your own meats to make them as good, or maybe better than those you purchase already brined. Just remember, acids are in marinades, and marinades don't penetrate into the meat. Brines to penetrate.

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Old 07-25-2015, 11:34 AM   #14
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Some flavors are soluble only in alcohol, though, so a little lemon juice or vinegar can be a good addition. Just not too much.
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Old 07-25-2015, 01:35 PM   #15
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Some flavors are soluble only in alcohol, though, so a little lemon juice or vinegar can be a good addition. Just not too much.
I'm confused. I agree that certain flavors are alcohol soluble. Neither lemon juice, nor vinegar have alcohol in them. So how does that help. I cold see if you said to add a little vodka to the brine, it might help with pull some flavors into the meat. Personally, I detest the flavor of alcohol, and am highly sensitive to it. But I understand the concept.

I also could see splashing a bit of lemon or lime onto the meat after it has been brined, to compliment the other flavors in the brine.

Please explain your reasoning.

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Old 07-25-2015, 03:07 PM   #16
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I guess I was confused, too I meant to say a little wine or some type of liquor that goes with the flavor profile of the dish. Sorry about that.
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Old 07-25-2015, 03:18 PM   #17
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I shop at McKinnons on occasion. They have an astonishing quantity of packaged marinated meats, and not just a few items at the butcher counter. I’ll take a good guess that a lot of these items sit for a few days before they are sold. My limited experience is that you get some unusual textures and flavors with the pre-marinated meats, which I’ll attribute to the multi-day marinating process.

When I marinate meat for flavor it’s usually not more than an hour or two. I’ve read a lot of viewpoints that anything longer than that will start to change the texture of the meat (depending on the marinade), which is what you might want with tougher cuts of meat. My opinion is that pre-marinated chicken tends to be kind of mealy.
I lived just two doors away from the original one in Everett. And even though I now live two towns away, I still go there once a month to buy my meats. The Everett store is smaller than any of the others. But come holiday time, you can't get in the door. I never buy their marinated meats. But because I live two towns away, I phone in my order, and my son picks up my order. I have never been given a bad piece of meat. Sometimes if my son is not going to work on shopping day, I first go to Market Basket in Chelsea and then we swing over to Everett to do my meat shopping. From Market Basket it is only less than five minutes away.

I get special cuts the way I like them. My daughter also has been shopping there almost as long as I have. Now she likes their marinated meats. For her it is well worth the time she saves and she likes the flavor of the marinated meats.

I used to see the huge semi ice box truck pull up at least twice a week. The trucks were from Chicago. I would see them bring in whole animals cut right down the middle. Beef, pigs, sheep, etc. They do their own butchering of that meat. You know it is fresh meat that was alive only less than 48 hours ago. But the best part, is that their meats cost a lot less than even Market Basket. Well worth the effort of going out of my way.
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Old 07-26-2015, 07:45 AM   #18
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Freshly marinated meat from the butchers is one thing but marinated meat in sealed packages like the ones from Trader Joe's, for instance, are sometimes downright terrible.
Copy that! There are time limits for proteins being marinated, from a few minutes to a few days (my Sauerbraten goes 3-5 days). Something stored for long periods in marinade most likely will destroy the texture, not to mention the flavor.
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Old 07-26-2015, 01:18 PM   #19
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Copy that! There are time limits for proteins being marinated, from a few minutes to a few days (my Sauerbraten goes 3-5 days). Something stored for long periods in marinade most likely will destroy the texture, not to mention the flavor.
The meat turns to mush and that is great or the toothless folks that are ready for the home.
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Old 07-27-2015, 09:23 AM   #20
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Marinated meats

Not absolutely sure, but I'd guess the commercial marinated meats are pumped. This would cause the difference in texture and taste.

Pumping also has the added benefit (to the packer) of increasing the weight with a nearly costless product.
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