Monday, June 24, 2013

Tips for Making Marinades

      Marinades are particularly well suited to beef and game, but can be used to liven up the mild flavor of chicken and all its relatives.  Marinades are created using a blend of oil, vinegar and seasonings that is then used as a soak for the item before it is cooked.  The ratio is generally 2/3 cup oil to 1/4 cup vinegar (or lemon juice) and herbs to taste; usually around 2 tablespoons of dry herbs, more if you are using fresh.
       The high acid content of a marinade (from vinegar) helps tenderize meat as well as impart wonderful flavors.  You can use an herbal vinegar to craft your marinades for an even more special depth of flavor.  See our post on herbal vinegar making for more details.
mustard marinade (see recipe below)

            Always prepare your marinade in a shallow non-reactive dish or pan just large enough to hold the meat comfortably.  Be sure to turn the meat so the flavor will permeate all surfaces evenly.  Very thin cuts of meat can be marinated an hour or so at room temperature, but roasts and larger cuts should stand longer, even up to two days in the refrigerator.  Just remember to turn the meat every few hours and let it return to room temperature before cooking.

Marinade on vegetables does not need as much acid as meats and can be made with just oil.  With vegetables, one can soak them in the marinade or brush it on during grilling.

Herb flavor groups for using in marinades:
  • Citrus zest: grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange zest
  • Robust Herbs:  basil, cilantro, rosemary, or sage
  • Sweet or Floral Herbs: lavender, lemon balm, lemon verbena, rose, dill or mint
  • Savory Herbs: marjoram, oregano, parsley, savory, tarragon, thyme; or whole bay leaf
  • Herb seeds: whole caraway, celery, coriander, cumin, fennel, poppy, or sesame
I have a whole list of blends for marinades that I created for the Backyard Patch because I love the quick easy way you can toss any meat, cheap cuts and all, into a marinade and craft a quick easy dinner.  In fact all of my salad dressings can double as a marinade as well!

Here are a few Marinade recipes you can craft on your own to enjoy:

Wine Marinade for Beef
1 glove garlic
10 peppercorns
8 whole allspice
1 tsp. salt
1 cup red wine
3 pounds rump roast, cubed

In a deep bowl, combine clove garlic, crushed peppercorns, allspice, salt, and wine. Stir to dissolve salt. Add beef cubes, pressing cubes down into marinade to immerse as much as possible. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Herbed Marinade for Vegetables

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup water
2 Tablespoons honey
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 teaspoons fresh chopped herb mix
      (rosemary, thyme, basil and oregano OR chives, dill, lemon thyme and lemon basil)

Combine ingredients together in a glass jar with a tight lid and shake to combine.  Pour the mixture over cubed vegetables in a non-reactive container and refrigerate for 2 hours.  This recipe is enough for 2 pounds of vegetables.

Mustard Marinade for Chicken

1/3 c. lemon vinegar (made with any combo of Lemon herbs)
¼ c. Dijon mustard
2 T. vegetable oil
2-3 tsp. dried basil
1 clove garlic, crushed

Whisk items together in small bowl.  Use as a marinade for chicken, pork, or seafood.

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