I have been obsessed with creating the perfect carne asada for quite some time (I’ll make a post when I get there – it’s close), which naturally led me down the road of mastering marinades.
In my study I found that agitation, not vacuum pressure, is the key to marinade penetration, which is a common misconception. This is why some people use rock tumblers with great success in place of expensive “culinary” vacuum tumblers.
Anyway, keeping this principle in mind, I took a flank steak and used a Jacquard on it all over and cut it into roughly 3″ by 6″ pieces. I put those and the marinade in my kitchenaid with the dough hook and put it on the lowest speed, for 20 minutes.
The key here is GENTLE agitation – I tried this once with steak tips and the flat beater, on speed 2 or 3 and it literally tenderized it to mush. You want the meat to move in the marinade, but not get crushed into it.
This time, the meat was noticeably tender and had absorbed quite a bit of the marinade through this relatively gentle process. I left the meat to rest in the marinade for another hour, then deep fried the pieces to keep as much moisture inside as possible.
Wow. Full flavor penetration, and very, very tender – with no extra equipment to buy (for once!). I am going to continue experimenting, but I urge anyone out there with a stand mixer and a fascination with flavor infusion to give this a shot.