I mentioned in a previous post how marinating saves time, helps with planning meals ahead, and makes everything taste so much better. So, here are a few recipes for my favorite marinades!
Almost always, it’s best to marinate your meats in a zipper bag; or better yet, in a vacuum-sealer bag. If you have the possibility for the latter, go for it – the vacuum’s negative pressure helps the marinade penetrate the meat faster, cutting down the necessary time by 10-25%.
And for what to mix that meat with – here goes.
1. Orange barbecue
Thaw one six-ounce can of frozen orange juice concentrate – preferably one of the less pulpy kinds. Mix it with 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce, a tablespoon of minced red onions or shallots, a teaspoon of parsley flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder (or about a clove of pressed garlic) and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Stir these ingredients together well, and pour them in a zipper bag or vacuum-sealer bag. Add 7-10 pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken (thighs, breast halves and wings seem to work best), and let them marinate overnight. While it’s best when made over a charcoal barbecue, it’s also great out of the oven – either way, keep basting it with the remaining marinade during cooking time.
2. Greek inspiration
Mix about 1 cup of your favorite brand ranch dressing with copious amounts of oregano: at least 2-3 tablespoons. Add a couple of cloves of finely minced or pressed garlic, white pepper to taste, a dash of lemon juice, and just a hint of nutmeg. Cut 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts to very thin strips, and mix them with the marinade in a zipper bag. Let them stand for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight – never leave it in the marinade for more than 24 hours though. When you’re ready for dinner, heat olive oil to almost smoking in a large skillet, and add the chicken. Keep stirring vigorously with a wooden spatula until the meat has seared, then drop the heat to medium until the chicken is cooked through. Finally, bring up the heat one last time to high, and brown the sides of the little strips. Serve it in a fluffy pita pocket with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and sliced onions, topped with sour cream or even more ranch, optionally with feta cheese. If you like hot flavors, add a little Tabasco to the top of it for an extra layer of delicious.
3. Straight outta Munich
This Bavarian recipe for pork knee is a local delicacy – every brewery, or Hofbrauhaus has it on their menu, as do most restaurants. For the marinade, combine 2 cups of vegetable oil with 2 tablespoons of yellow mustard and 1/2 cup of some good quality light ale or weizenbier (German style wheat ale). Add about a tablespoon of minced or grated garlic, 2 whole onions sliced thin, a teaspoon of black pepper, a teaspoon or two of rubbed marjoram and a few whole bay leaves. Be sure to use rubbed marjoram rather than ground – the fine particles would release an intense bitter flavor that has a harder time releasing from the bigger bits in the rubbed version. The same way with the bay leaves; most people don’t like the flavor all that much, much less the texture, and the whole leaves are easier to remove before baking. For the meat, use a skin-on pork picnic roast, cut into serving-size chunks. Rub the meat lightly with salt, then add it to the marinade. Let the flavors come together overnight, then put the meat and onions into a lightly greased, deep baking dish. Remove the bay leaves from the marinade, and pour it over the meat, along with another cup of beer. Cover the dish with foil, and put it in a 350 degree oven for about 60-90 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of the baking for a golden, crispy outside. Serve it with pan-fried potatoes – for best results, fry the pre-boiled potato slices on the grease of the roast -, crispy onion rings and garlic sour cream. Derlicious!
4. Treasure Island BBQ
For the marinade, combine 1 cup of pineapple juice, 1/4 cup of orange juice, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2-3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, 3-4 cloves of minced garlic, a small onion sliced thin and white or black pepper to taste. Add 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts to this, cut to cubes. Let them marinate only for about 2 hours, then put them on skewers, alternating with pineapple chunks and onion pieces. Coat the skewers in your favorite barbecue sauce, then grill them over the barbecue or in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Sweet yet tangy, it’s best paired with white rice and a tall glass of ice cold fruit juice. (Cocktail umbrellas optional.)
The liver. When I wrote about cooking liver a while ago, I mentioned this, but since it’s a post dedicated to marination, I thought I would mention it once again. To take out the sharp flavor of liver, soak it in milk for a few hours before cooking. You can also add some garlic to the milk for an instant seasoning. Milk can also act as a quick tenderizer to chicken or turkey breast, along with the garlic flavoring. When using milk in a marinade, there are a few no-nos. Never leave anything marinate in milk for more than just a couple of hours. The enzymes that help tenderize the meat, and the amino acids and short proteins that get released like this will speed up the milk’s way to spoilage – and spoiled milk will spoil the meat too! Also, never use salt or any seasonings that contain salt in milk marinades, as these may curdle your milk and turn it into cottage cheese.
I hope this quick run-down gave you some new ideas on marinating meats, and will help you make better food even faster!
Enjoy your meal!