With the 4th of July getting closer and the grilling season upon us we wanted to share some information on grilling so you can get the most out of your barbecue. One way to insure success with what goes on the grill is to consider using a marinade. There are four very good reasons to marinade your meat, poultry or fish before it goes on the grill:
Taste: A good marinade can contribute flavors and regional influence to your meal. Try incorporating fresh ginger, chilies, lemongrass, garlic, specific spices or fresh herbs to bring extra flavor and direction to your meal.
Juiciness: Using oils in your marinade or brushing a steak with oil before hitting the grill helps with juiciness. Oils are natural emulsifiers and serve to reduce moisture loss during cooking and also helps prevent sticking on the grill. We suggest using lighter oil like canola, soy, grape seed or blended oil that includes olive oil.
Tenderness: The acids (vinegar, wine, citrus, pineapple, papaya, buttermilk & yogurt) in a marinades breakdown the protein chains making the meat tender. However do not let food sit in marinades for too long or they will become over tenderized. Meats like beef and pork should be marinated the longest, anywhere from an hour to 5 hours depending on the thickness of the cut and the strength of the marinade. Poultry should be marinated anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. Fish and seafood should spend no more than 30 minutes in a marinade.
Healthiness: When cooking meats over a direct flame heterocyclic amines (HCA)’s are created. The American Cancer Research Institute claims that marinating in an acidic marinade can reduce these potentially cancer-causing agents. An acidic marinade acts by keeping HCA’s from forming on the proteins when on the grill and include the ones mentioned above.
Putting together a marinade is very easy. In fact one of the simplest solutions is to use your favorite Italian salad dressing that has the perfect balance of acid to oil and herbs and spices.
To make a simple marinade requires taking your oil of choice and add it to an equal part of acid (vinegar, lemon juice, wine, etc.), then throw in whatever seasonings you like, pour the whole thing in a zip-top bag, add the protein and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.
You only need enough marinade to cover the meat completely with a think layer. It is important to make sure that it is completely coated in the marinade so it can work on the entire exposed surface. You also need to keep animal protein of any kind refrigerated and take your food straight from the refrigerator to the grill.
Here are a couple basic recipes for marinades we use all the time, but be adventurous and add your favorite herbs, spices and ingredients, remember that the basic foundation is equal parts of oil to acids.
Jeff Perlman, Executive Chef