Marinating meat is a popular and relatively cheap way to spice up any dish. The technique has been in use for many thousands of years. It has often been used as a way to preserve as well as tenderise meat in the pre-refrigeration era (most of human history). This is probably why there is such a huge range of different marinade recipes available. Despite the advent of widespread refrigeration, marinating is still popular and offers a simple and delicious way to make any plain meat dish that bit more interesting. The most common form of marinade is based on oil, vinegar and herbs; it’s also possible to marinade using dairy produce (cream, yogurt or soured cream). The latter method can be found in South Indian cooking (Tandoori Chicken, for example) and it’s a mild form of marinating that works well with lighter meats such as chicken or pork. For beef and other dark meats a non-dairy marinade is usually better.
Types of Marinade
- For red meats and game, the basic essential ingredients are good quality oil, vinegar and a range of herbs. The herbs give the unique taste and style to any marinade, while the vinegar helps to act on the meat to tenderise it.
- Italian Style; oregano, basil and garlic along with chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh) will make an excellent set of flavourings with an Italian feel. Use olive oil if possible, while balsamic vinegar is probably best to give that Italian taste.
- An alternative to the vinegar in a marinade is citrus fruit. Like vinegar, these contain a good level of acidity to help ‘cure’ the meat and, of course, also add a tangy flavour. For a spicy mix add the juice from a lemon and lime along with the zest to garlic, black pepper and cumin. Cover the meat liberally with the marinade and leave for up to an hour before cooking. This is a nice quick method which is great for white meats, particularly chicken and pork.
- Steaks are simple and easy to cook, great for barbeques and, to avoid too much fuss, a simple marinade of oil, garlic, thyme and rosemary will add a subtle but delicious flavour that smells and tastes great.
- Marinating with dairy products is a simple process, but it takes a little longer than using oils and vinegars. Ideally meat should be marinated overnight if you’re planning on using this method. Perhaps the best well known dairy marinade is the Chicken Tandoori variety mentioned above. For this you’ll need a good quality Greek yogurt, a good chunk of grated garlic, hot peppers, the juice of a lemon and a dash of Turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients together and then cover the meat. Again this is a great dish for the barbeque but the meat can also be grilled or fried, if you’re doing the latter dice the meat before marinating.
- Lamb or pork also both work well with dairy methods of marinating. Diced meat for kebabs (again, a good dish for barbeques, but easy to cook indoors as well) can be marinated in Greek yogurt or soured cream. Add cumin, pepper, coriander, mint, garlic, salt and lemon juice. Chilli powder could be added for an extra kick and this works particularly well in this marinade for lamb. Time is again a big ingredient and a little forward planning is a good idea.
Marinating is a simple method of flavouring to learn and it’s not one that needs to be limited by recipes, just your imagination. For barbecues it’s a great way to add that little extra to the mix and surprise your friends and relatives.
To save time for marinating meats for barbecues this summer, food shopping online should help to stock the cupboards with all the basic essentials to transform your barbecues into a summer evening event to remember.
Charlotte actively blogs about Fashion, Food & Drink covering everything from the latest fashion trends to tasty food. On her spare time she loves shopping, discovering new products & enjoys getting lost in new places as she writes away about online food delivery.