We’ve heard, over the past couple of years, how barbecuing Meat can create cancer-causing compounds on its caramelized, crispy surface. Now, researchers say you can combat that threat by simply using lots of Pepper in your marinades or rubs. Or just sprinkle it on generously!
Dr. J. Scott Smith of Kansas State University says he’s been working for years on how to reduce or eliminate the formation of heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, which can form on the surface of Meat when it is grilled. HCAs are recognised as cancer causers by the World Health Organization and just about every other leading organization that has an opinion.
Smith has found that simply mixing Black Pepper with ground Meat or using lots in marinades or rubs for solid cuts, can all but eliminate the formation of HCAs as the Meat grills. Furthermore, he says, you can get even better results by blending Pepper with other Herbs and Spices that have known anti-oxidant properties:
“Blending pepper with antioxidant-rich spices works so well in ground beef patties and on steaks that the spice formulation eliminates nearly 100 percent of HCAs. In these cases, the spices are added at a level that is quite practical, so the result is flavorful and healthy.”
Smith’s work has also extended to marinating, which he says may be misunderstood:
“Some people might think that if a little time in the marinade does some good for the meat, then a lot of marinating time would do a lot of good, but marinating too long has the opposite effect because it can cause the antioxidants in the sauce to decompose. Just a couple of hours is an ideal time for marinating.”
Many BBQ aficionados and Chefs will disagree. I, for one, am a big fan of the ‘overnight to 24-hours’ rule for Beef, especially large cuts like Briskets or Ribs. But more delicate Meats like Poultry need much less time in marinade; perhaps 4 hours, ideally. And Fish can be marinated, but rarely does it need to be…
Get out there and grill without fear! The season is upon us…
~ Maggie J.