Want to kick-off the football season with big points? Know how to score. I don't mean throwing a Hail Mary pass or kicking a 50-yard field goal. and no, scoring doesn't involve flexing one's biceps, flirting, imitating Arnold Schwarzenneger or indulging in an innocent slap and tickle. I'm talking about infusing steaks, chicken and vegetables with infinitely more flavor, just by wielding a few nimble knife strokes.
Scoring happens when you make parallel gashes in a food, generally about 1/4-inch deep, and about 3/4-inch apart. For best results, after scoring in one direction, score again at a different angle, to make a diamond pattern.
Beauty, it's been said, is only skin deep. Marinating isn't much deeper. Marinades do add flavor, but the flavor doesn't penetrate much more than 1/4-inch deep. Some think that longer marinating times increase the flavor, but actually the acids in a marinade gradually begin to break down the proteins (thus tenderizing tough cuts), making meats and poultry mushier but not necessarily more flavorful inside.
Scoring, though, increases flavor three ways. First, the gashes allow the marinade to get deeper into the meat. Secondly, the scored gashes trap more flavorful ingredients: they make perfect pockets for rubbing garlic, fresh herbs, onion, and other seasoning bits into, which might otherwise fall off the meat's surface. and finally, if the grill is hot enough, the scored edges of the food will slightly crisp and char, adding texture and a smoky, caramelized flavor.
Another advantage of scoring is that it helps foods cook more evenly. Chicken breasts, for instance, are naturally thicker at one end than the other. A slightly deeper score in the thick end allows it to cook quicker, so that the thinner end doesn't dry out in the time it takes for the thicker area to cook.
Kate's Global Kitchen for September, 2001:
09/01/01 Scoring Points
09/08/01 Last Blast Gazpacho: Tomato and Watermelon at Summer's End
09/15/01 Smokin' Rosemary
09/22/01 Winners Announced: Haiku of Food Contest
09/29/01 The Misleading Curry Leaf
Copyright © 2001, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created September 2001