Cooking is one of the ways in which we express creativity, love, affection, and culture to those around us and to ourselves. Most of us have tried a recipe or two by the time we have hit adulthood, and often we try them when we want to host friends or family.
This is followed by experimental bursts where we try new things for a while before sinking back into the same cooking routine. During this time, you may think about learning some new culinary skills or trying different techniques for making your food taste great.
One of these techniques is the process of marination. Marinating meat is something that is done the world over, especially with the most common form of edible meat: chicken.
But how long do you marinate chicken for? And why do we marinate meat at all?
What Is Marination?
Marination, or the procedure of marinating something, is the process of creating a blend of different flavors from seasonings, herbs, spices, and strongly or subtly flavored foods and then coating or soaking a piece of meat in that mixture for a period of time, before cooking it.
There are two types of marinades, the first is a wet marinade, which is a marinade that is mostly mixed into a liquid or a paste, and the second is a dry marinade, which is a marinade that uses no liquid, though sometimes a dry paste like mustard is used to adhere everything together. The one core of all marinades is that they use acidic ingredients to break down the meat.
If the marinade is heavily salt-based it is a brine, not a marinade, and it will not make the meat as tender as a marinade would. Normally, people marinade foods for between 1 hour and up to 48 hours. The longer you let the meat sit within the marinade, the more flavorful and tender the meat will be.
Why Do We Marinate Food?
Marinating meat is an age-old practice that has been occurring long before our lifetimes. There are a few reasons for the marination of meat, and the main one is taste. Meat, in and of itself, is delicious and if you plan to sear most meats all you really need is a little bit of salt and oil to make it taste really good. However, marination lets you not only improve the flavor but dictate what the flavor will be.
For example, if you planned to have a light, herby pasta sauce with roasted chicken on the side, you may want to make a marinade of garlic, herbs, and white wine, which will give it a soft, tangy flavor to counterbalance the herby sauce.
By using a marinade, you are incorporating a variety of flavors into the meat itself and since the choice of herbs, spices, and seasoning are near limitless, the flavor combination can be too.
How Long Does It Take To Marinate Chicken?
Honestly, it is down to you and the amount of time you have. Chicken is not overly tough or difficult meat, so it won’t take too long to be made tender or to gain flavor. If you are short on time, then even a 20 to 30-minute marinade in the fridge will make it taste better. However, for the best results, marinating the chicken for up to 48 hours would make it unbelievably flavorful and incredibly tender.
Chicken should be marinated on average between 1 and 4 hours, depending on the different sections of the chicken, but marinating it for longer – overnight or even longer – will make it absolutely delicious.
Give it a try, we guarantee you won’t be disappointed.