Friday, July 6, 2012

Marinade 101

With the summer BBQ season in full swing, I thought I would share some Marinating wisdom.

A Marinade is a seasoned liquid in which meat, fish, veg, etc. are steeped before cooking.

A marinade consists of several key elements

1. something salty
2. something sweet
3. something acidic
4. Flavorings (herbs and spices).

Marinades can be very simple, or a marriage of complex flavors.

Why marinate?

To tenderize, moisturize, and flavor the food.

Each of the elements of a marinade help in this process. The acid breaks down the proteins in the meat and makes it tender. Salt helps to flavor the meat, and aids in the distribution of water throughout the meat so it does not dry out as easily during the cooking process. This is expecially true with lean cuts of meat such as boneless skinless chicken or fish. A balance between salty and sweet helps in the overall flavor profile. We crave that sweet salty balance. The sugar also aids in the browning process adding much flavor.There are many flavorings herbs etc that add to the overall aroma and flavor of the food. All these things combine together to create a great food experience.

How long does it take to marinate?

The larger and tougher the cut of meat the longer it takes. We want the acid in the marinade to penetrate the meat and break down the proteins. We also want to get the flavor into the meat and not just on the surface.

here are some suggested marinating times.

chicken bone in 1-2 hours
chicken boneless 20-50 minutes
Beef roast 2-3 hours
flank steak or london broil 1-2 hours
skirt steaks 30-50 minutes
pork chops or pork loin 30-60 minutes
pork butt or pork shoulder roast 2-3 hours
lamb chops 30-40 minutes
fish 10-20 minutes
shrimp shelled 10-20 minutes
shrimp with shell on 30-45 minutes
Vegetables 30 minutes

Marinate in the fridge in a non metalic container

this is my favorite marinade container  it is about  2 inches deep with a lid.
Marinate items in the fridge, stiring or turning several times through the marinade process. This ensures that all the food gets covered in goodness. Large Ziptop bags can make for mess free marinating.

 Why make your own marinade?

First of all, most marinades are super easy. Second, you know what went into it. Store bought marinades can have a bunch of ingredients that you may not want. Third, the cost is so much less when you make your own.

Here are a few of my favorite quick and easy marinades.

quick and easy marinade for turkey or chicken

12-16 ounces of a lemon lime soda
1 cup soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
mix ingredients together and pour over 2-3 pounds of  bonless skinless chicken or turkey. let sit refrigerated for about 45 minutes then cook on a hot grill.

beef marinade

4 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 of a medium onion grated
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
juice of half a  lemon
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon worchestershire sauce
11/2 Tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons spanish paprika
mix all together and pour over 11/2-2 pounds of beef

I use this often for a london broil or a flank steak marinating for about 2 hours before grilling

I just recently found a marinade for salmon that used the fresh mint in my garden It was yummy so I thought I would share it here

Minted Salmon

1 bunch fresh mint stems removed
1 bunch fresh parsley stems removed
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

blend together in the food processor or blender
pour over 6 salmon portions 6 oz each.  marinate for about 10 minutes


  1. I'm bookmarking this to give some of your recipes a try! We've started to marinate skirt steak and it really tastes great that way. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sounds great! I am not a fan of fish but I wonder if the salmon one would be good on chicken. I have fresh mint in my garden and nothing to do with it :)

  3. I just went to a cooking class tonight and we talked alot about marinades! Thanks for linking up to Make a Move Monday!

  4. This is an excellent post - lots of great tips for marinading and delicious recipes too! I think your beef marinade is my favourite. Thank you for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  5. This is a great post. Thank you so much for linking it in to Food on Friday: Marinades and Rubs. Have a great week

    Ps I know you have probably been busy but it would be great if you followed Carole's Chatter back.

  6. Goodie - a salmon marinade for Food on Friday: Salmon. Cheers and thanks for linking in again.

  7. I am always curious what people use to marinate their salmon.