Marinades are usually comprised of three components: acid, oil, and herbs. Christopher Kimball says that you shouldn't include acid (orange juice, vinegar, etc) in your marinade mixture. His argument is that the acid breaks down the meat and leaves it too mushy. I was willing to take him at his word until I started experimenting a few weeks ago. One night, I grilled flank steak after marinating it for 24 hours in a mixture of rosemary, garlic, shallots, and olive oil. The recipe is here. End result? It was good, but I thought the marinade flavor overwhelmed the meat. Something was off.
About a week later I found myself cooking flank steak again (I'm learning to grill, people!). This time I decided to use up the lonely bottle of Ken's Italian dressing I had left over from making my Mom's potato salad. I salted the steak and marinated the meat for a few hours. I liked the flavor of this version much better. It tasted like steak. That's it. And it wasn't mushy or chewy, as Kimball suggests.
What does it all mean? Perhaps it means that I'm low-brow and that I prefer a bottle of pre-made dressing to a non-preservative, no acid, all-natural marinade, or that I like disagreeing with Christopher Kimball.
I don't know the answer.
Clearly I need to conduct more experiments before drawing conclusions, especially considering that I marinated one steak for 24 hours and the other for 2 hours, and, therefore, I failed to create experimental conditions where the treatment of both steaks were essentially equivalent, except for the marinade. (Nerd).
So what do you think, Internets? Acid or no acid in your marinade?
I need to know.