Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Queen of the Marinade

I've gotta say... I've gotten raves on my marinades. The thing is, whenever someone asks me what my recipe is, I always have to say that I don't really have one, which makes it seem mysterious and secretive. But really that's not so.

There is a secret and here it is: A great marinade needs to have a combination of these five
"S"-words. Savory, Sweet, Salty, Spicy & Sour. So basically what I do is open up the fridge and see what condiments qualify.

For the savory, things like oyster sauce, worcestershire, hoisen sauce, ketchup, and dijon mustard are great options.

For the sweet; brown sugar is a must, honey, orange marmalade, and even citrus juice or soda have worked.

For the salty; soy sauce is always the base. A little bit of fish sauce is a nice addition too (I have to keep that a secret in my house though, or everyone will freak out!).

For the spicy; harissa is fantastic (see September post for recipe), Chipotle Tabasco gives it a nice smokey flavor, sweet chili sauce is also great.

For the Sour, you really need just a touch of something acidic. My favorite is balsamic vinegar.

I also always add some fresh chopped garlic, herbs and fresh ground ginger.

And there you have it, sounds like a million ingredients, but it should be all things that you already have in the fridge, and this is where improv is key! Before you add your meat, just keep tasting to see that you have the right balance, not too salty & just sweet enough.

If you have the large, gallon ziplock bags, they work great for holding whatever you are marinating. This way you can pour everything in, throw it in the refrigerator, and give it a jiggle every now and then. The longer you can leave it the better. Overnight is perfect, an hour at the least. Also if you are using a large piece of meat, like the one pictured, poke it a few times on each side with a fork to allow marinade to penetrate.

When it's time to throw it on the grill, or put it in the pan, pat it with a paper towel to dry off the outside as much as possible. Then pour remaining marinade into a small saucepan, bring to boil and then reduce slightly. Brush this on as the meat cooks and reserve a little to pour on the finished meat and voila! Get ready for the rave reviews.

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