The month of May is officially National Barbecue Month. That means it’s time to get your grill on. The key to good grilling is simple: good meat and bathing that meat in a delicious marinade.
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A good marinade will add flavor to your favorite meat and make it more tender and juicy. Making a marinade is pretty damn simple. All you is need is three basic components. The first is an acid such as lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt, or wine. The acid is important as it breaks down the meat, tenderizing it. The second is oil. This protects and preserves the food while it is marinating and when also when it’s being cooked. The third is any herb and/or spice. This is what gives a marinade its unique flavor and zest. Feel free to experiment by grouping one or more ingredients from each component.
Here are some general guidelines for marinating:
- Meat and poultry are generally marinated for 2 hours up to 2 days.
- Seafood and fish should be marinated for no longer than one hour.
- Use a nonreactive container - steer clear of aluminum, copper, or cast iron.
- Wait for your marinade to cool down before pouring over the meat of your choice.
- Always refrigerate your meat while it's marinating.
- Never reuse marinades!
10. Coffee Marinade
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Don’t throw away that half empty pot of coffee. Instead use it as a marinade. You can marinate pork chops, chicken, steak, or any game meat in coffee. Generally let the meat stand for one to three hours in your favorite cup of Joe. The coffee will give the meat a lovely smoky taste. Just remember to use cold coffee. Hot coffee will cook the meat!
1 cup strong brewed black coffee or espresso
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
About 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus a little more for rubbing on the steak
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 ½ to 2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of fat
Combine all the ingredients and, before adding the meat, separate ¼ of the marinade to use later for basting. Then add the meat. Let it stand in the refrigerator for at least two hours and up to 24 hours. When grilling, use the spare marinade for basting.
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9. Greek Marinade
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This authentic, tasty Greek marinade is a must for any backyard griller. With a touch of sourness thanks to the lemon and a sweetness brought out by oregano, it will leave your taste buds dancing, Zorba the Greek-style. The marinate suits any meat and is probably best suited to lamb.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
8 lamb rib or loin chops or chicken breast, cut 1/2 inch thick (or chicken)
Place all ingredients in a bowl, and then add meat. Refrigerate for two to four hours. Now it’s time to get a-grillin'!
8. Tandoori Marinade
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As its name would suggest, the tandoori marinade originated in India. What distinguishes this marinade from most others is its key ingredient is yogurt. Mostly used with chicken, this marinade is rich in flavor and bite.
5 oz. plain yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 fresh red chillies, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon mild curry paste
2 tablespoons red tandoori paste
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/2 tsp salt
3 oz milk (approximate)
Source: Indian Curry Recipes
7. Teriyaki Marinade
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This traditional Japanese marinade is widely popular and simple to make. The basic ingredient is soy sauce which sweetens and caramelizes when cooked. In Japan the marinade is mainly used for fish, though it works perfectly with all types of meat. This marinade, when reduced, also acts as a dipping sauce.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Japanese cooking wine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 clove garlic, smashed and
1 piece fresh gingerroot
1 tbsp honey
1/2 teaspoons Japanese wasabi powder or
1/4 teaspoons wasabi paste (optional)
In small saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes until syrupy. Remove from heat, and discard garlic and ginger. Let cool. Marinade food in about 3/4 cup of sauce for 20 minutes. When ready to cook, reheat remaining marinade and brush over food several times during cooking and once again at end of cooking to glaze.
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6. Tequila Mockingbird Marinade
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This marinade originated from the famed Mexican restaurant of the same name in Connecticut. It is spicy, sharp, and has a real kick to it. It works perfectly with jumbo shrimp, sea scallops, and chicken.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons triple sec
1 large jalapeño chili, seeded, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime peel
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Let stand 15 minutes. (Can be prepared one day ahead of time.) Cover and refrigerate. Marinate poultry one to three hours and seafood 30 minutes in refrigerator. Drain (do not pat dry) and grill. Boil remaining marinade in heavy small saucepan one minute. Drizzle some of marinade over poultry or seafood just before serving.
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