We all love dry rubs, bbq sauces but did you know that Yogurt makes an AMAZING meat marinade? Find out why today!
So I love yogurt. It can be plain (yes some people actually eat plain <as-in non vanilla>), flavored, Greek, homemade and pretty much must every other type. I love it with fruits, oats, chocolate, bacon (hello.. bacon goes with literally EVERYTHING!), granola. Mix it with other stuff (my go-to stuff for mayo-based stuff) or simply just when I want a great snack. BUT… did you know that marinating meats in yogurt it’s probably one of the BEST ways to tenderize meat?
Yeah, really! Scouts honor! Well okay so I technically am not a scout nor but I still am telling you the truth. So not all marinades are made the same. Those that are acidic or citrus-based when used on poultry can actually do the opposite. If left in for an overnight type stint, they can actually toughen the meat and thus produce you with rubbery chicken that pretty much is the consistency of a tire.
I’m not saying don’t do this as trust me I LOVE me some citrus shrimp or pineapple chicken. You can marinate them in those types of items but you just have to watch how much and how long. Shrimp actually will cook in a citrus marinade if left in long enough. Sure we can get into the whole debate of ceviche and cooked shrimp. but that’s another battle.
So let’s dish about yogurt as a marinade. Here’s why it works. When you marinade in yogurt or a thicker dairy (hello buttermilk fried chicken!), it will infuse and penetrate deep into the meat. So when it cooks (whatever method) you get a super tender, super juicy piece of meat. This happens due to the proteins and calcium in yogurt. As the yogurt marinade seeps into the meat it’s not only drawing in flavor but it’s also adding in moisture. Now this is not something that happens quickly though. So if you’re impatient, plan ahead better next time. Normal time frame is at least 12 hours.
Now in a non-yogurt marinade, as soon as the meat hits the pan your meat begins to sear. What’s happening is that the sugars in your marinade are starting to caramelize. This is how you get that golden brown texture that’s crispy in places. However when you marinade in yogurt, you’ll that same golden brown texture BUT you’ll also get this thin protective coating underneath it that locks in all of the juices, moisture and flavor. Thus you’ll end up with a more flavorful (and tender) piece of meat/poultry.
With regards to what goes into your marinade, well, that’s honestly up to you. If it’s chicken go for some seasonings, lemon and the like. For beef, even simple salt and pepper with the yogurt works.
However the biggest factor is the type of yogurt you use. You need yogurt that actually has liquid. Greek yogurt, while super yummy, is not recommended. It’s been strained (this is why it’s so thick). BUT if you have only Greek yogurt you can use that. It will work as it has does have calcium and lactic acid in it but you’ll need to add more liquid to it. And obviously stay away from the flavors. Why? They have sugars in them which can impact your sear. For yogurt marinades go with Plain yogurt – nothing fancy and definitely unstrained. You want that liquid type texture. Keep an out on the website in the future for some recipes that feature yogurt marinades.