Dark beers that make great marinades

Dark beers that make great marinades (Fotolia)

Dark beers that make great marinades (Fotolia)

Jordan St. John, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:28 AM ET

 

You may have read recently about a Portuguese study that suggests marinating meat in dark beer will help to prevent you from getting cancer. They marinated meat in three different kinds of beer and then grilled it, measuring the levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Science!

There are some things I’d like to point out before you break out the lighter fluid and singe your eyebrows.

PAHs are formed when fat comes into contact with flame, so if you’re grilling meat there are always going to be some carcinogens involved. If you’re really worried about carcinogens you should be microwaving or poaching or boiling your meat. Even if you do that for the rest of your life, your life is going to end eventually and you will have spent that time eating microwaved meat. I don’t know the meaning of life, but I can pretty much guarantee that’s not what it’s about.

As you cook meat, fat is going to render out of it. When the fat renders, it escapes the tissue of the meat with some of the moisture. This is why menus list pre-cooked weight for meat. What a good marinade manages to do is tenderize a tough cut of meat, allowing it to retain more moisture through the cooking process. With less moisture escaping, less fat escapes and fewer PAHs are formed.

This makes dark beer a great candidate for marinades because it has a relatively low PH and that acidity works to tenderize meat. However, dark beer is not a good marinade by itself. Other ingredients would help to develop some flavour.

For lamb cutlets, try Spearhead’s Moroccan Brown Ale. From a flavour standpoint, it already has dark malt, figs, raisins and a touch of cinnamon. The beer is not quite acidic enough by itself to get the job done, so you’ll want to add a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar. If you mix that together with three cloves of garlic, a diced shallot, a tablespoon of cumin and pinches of paprika, salt and pepper, you’ll have something reminiscent of a North African tagine.

For pork chops or chicken thighs the best thing to do is go with a dark lager like Kostrizer Schwarzbier. Add to it the juice of a lemon, three or four tablespoons of a grainy mustard (you may want to use less if it’s hot mustard), a tablespoon of brown sugar, and a teaspoon each of thyme and marjoram. Don’t forget the salt and pepper.

In each case, put all ingredients in a large freezer bag and squeeze out the air. Let it sit in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Pat the meat dry before putting it on the grill. Not only will it be tasty, but you can tell your guests you’re looking out for their health.

Jordan St.John writes about beer at saintjohnswort.ca; This week he’s using the tagline to plug his new book, Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to the Hudson Bay; available on amazon.ca.


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