Citrus fruits, beer, wine, vinegar, and pineapple juice can help soften certain proteins. Milk is also used to clean and soften lamb and goat, a very old technique that is also used for bull meat and chicken. The best fried chicken is actually marinated in buttermilk for a reason.
What do all of these ingredients have in common? Acid! But if you don’t calculate the right amount you use or the time your marinate the protein, it can work against you. That’s why I usually use a moderately acidic ingredient. One that is widely used in Greece, India, Lebanon and works miracles by breaking down protein fibers. It’s called Greek yogurt.
Using yogurt to tenderize chicken, beef, pork, goat, or lamb is, to me, the best technique of all. And it is not new, it is an old tradition that also improves the experience in the mouth and makes the flavors stand out. The protein you cook or pair with Greek yogurt will turn butter in your mouth and allow the rest of the condiments you use to penetrate better. Add cumin or coriander powder, panca chili paste, fresh ginger, dried oregano, curry or any other herb or spice you like and you will notice the difference. If you’re going to barbecue, shake off any excess of yogurt before bringing it to the heat.
But the story doesn’t end here. Use the remaining yogurt to make cheese, a creamy sauce or some tzatziki, which you can serve as a sauce, dressing for sandwiches or veggies or simply serve as an appetizer with warm pita bread. It is typical of Greece, but similar versions are prepared in Lebanon, Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries.
What you need:
- 15 oz Greek yogurt, full fat and plain
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped
- The juice of half a lemon
- Salt and pepper
What you have to do:
Using a paper towel, eliminate the excess of water that generates the zest of the cucumber. Then in a bowl, mix all the ingredients and put it in the fridge for a few hours, so that all the flavors come together better. It lasts for several days in the refrigerator. It will become your favorite! Even my nephew absolutely loves this recipe!