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The right marinade can turn a cheap, chewy cut of beef into a delicious dinner or enhance a simple cut of beef's natural flavor.
valerie says: The trick is having the right blend of flavors and acidity. The acids in the marinade will break down the tough fibers of the beef making it tender. In beef marinades you will usually use an acid like wine (or beer or other liquor), vinegar, or lemon juice (other acidic fruit juices will work too) combined with a mild oil.
The additional flavors can come from spices, fresh herbs, garlic, and seasoning sauces like Worcestershire or soy sauce. Whatever flavors you choose will soak into the meat so make sure if you are choosing a recipe with flavors you enjoy. Also, be careful when adjusting ingredients to taste so that you aren't overpowering the natural meat flavors.
Because these are acidic recipes make sure to marinate the beef in plastic or glass, not metal, containers. Also, do not marinate for more than 24 hours unless a recipe specifically calls for it. The acid can actually break down the fibers in the beef too far and start to "cook" it, causing the meat to become mushy.