Recipes generally do not contain exclamation points, but on occasion I will see one that says “Do not use marinade after removing the meat!” or “Discard marinade!” and I think we all know why. We’ve had food safety drummed into us, so we realize that used marinade is full of raw meat juices that could make us sick if we ingested them.
So no, don’t baste your pork loin or chicken with the leftover marinade as it cooks or you run the risk of making yourself and your family sick. But here’s the question that has lately been on my mind: Why can’t you cook the marinade, reducing it as you would a sauce, and effectively killing the offending raw meat organisms?
I did some Internet searches and found that many sites still advise against cooking and using your marinade as a sauce, but they didn’t really explain why. Then I went to FoodSafety.gov, a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and found that it IS safe to turn marinade into a sauce as long as you bring it to a boil and let it boil for at least one minute.
Aha! Now, some marinades might still be too strong or salty to be used as a sauce, because those recipes call for pretty strong flavors to permeate the meat. But last night I tested the marinade-as-sauce theory by making a Chinese-style pork with cabbage, and it turned out wonderful. So far, I feel fine.
For the details, see below the jump. Do any of you have recipes that call for boiling/reducing marinade for a sauce?
Chinese-style Pork with Cabbage
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup black vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup brown sugar
For the rest:
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. pork tenderloin, cut into small chunks
1/2 large head of green cabbage, cut into large shreds
2 green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp. cold water
Optional: hot sauce
1. Mix marinade ingredients together with a whisk. Add pork, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Cook cabbage with 1/4 cup water in a large frying pan over medium heat, covered, until it begins to get translucent and soft, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. Strain pork from marinade and reserve marinade. Heat oil in frying pan. Add pork and green onions and cook until pork is browned on the outside, about 2 minutes. Pour in marinade and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat to simmer. Let simmer for about 20 minutes.
4. Bring back to a boil. Whisk cornstarch slurry into the pan with the pork until sauce begins to thicken. Add cabbage and mix well. Let simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve over rice, if desired, or plain.