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marinades made easy

A marinade is a seasoned liquid mixture that both adds flavor and tenderizes meat.  Marinades are a fast, easy way to create delicious meat dishes — especially with less expensive cuts of meat.

A marinade must contain an ingredient to break down the meat fibers and let the flavors penetrate.  This can be an acidic substance (vinegar, wine, spirits, lemon juice, etc.) or a natural tenderizing enzyme such as those found in fresh papaya, ginger, pineapple and figs.

A small amount of oil is added to the marinade mixture to help ingredients adhere better to the meat and to aid in browning during cooking.

olive oil Although there are lots of complex marinade recipes available, you really only need 3 things to make a great marinade: a good olive oil, a good vinegar or spirit and a good blend of seasonings.

1/4 cup of oil, 1/4 cup of vinegar or spirit and 1 tbsp of seasoning will give you enough marinade for about a pound of meat.  Don't be fooled by the small amount.  Put it in a heavy resealable plastic bag to make it easy to distribute the marinade over the meat.

You can marinate for as little as 20 minutes.  Seafood should generally not be marinated more than an hour.  Other meats can be marinated as much as 2 days in the refrigerator.  An easy way to marinate is to put meats directly from the freezer into the marinade and refrigerate overnight.

Just remember: the more tender the meat, the less time it needs to marinate.

olive oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the only oil you need to make great marinades.  It has a rich, satisfying flavor and is also good for you.  The phrase "extra virgin" indicates oil from the first pressing of the olives.

vinegar

vinegar There are a wide variety of vinegars available in most supermarkets today.  While white or distilled vinegar will work in any marinade, some of the specialty vinegars are worth stocking.  The following are two that always have a place in my kitchen:

  • Balsamic Vinegar - a traditional farm vinegar from Modena, Italy.  This vinegar is a sweet, dark brown made from white wine grapes and then aged for at least 5 years in wood barrels.  It is highly flavorful and works well with a variety of meats and vegetables.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar - Made from freshly crushed, whole apples and stored in wooden vats, this fruity vinegar has a distinctive taste of cider that perfectly complements pork, chicken and vegetables.
wines & spirits

wines The basic rule for cooking with wine or other alcohol beverages is this: If you like to drink it, then enjoy cooking with it.  If you won't drink it then don't cook with it.

wines A perfect way to include wine in your marinade is simply to add a little of the wine that you plan to drink with dinner into the mixture.  Try using cognac, single malt scotch or bourbon to infuse your meat dishes with their rich flavors.

seasonings

Although you can combine individual herbs, salts and spices in any marinade, using our seasoning blends make it so easy to create delicious marinades that I feel like I'm somehow cheating.  I have listed four very easy marinades below using our seasoning blends along with links to other marinade recipes.

seasonings How do you know what seasonings go best with a particular vinegar or spirit?  This is where I just follow my nose.  I smell the seasoning blend or herb and then smell the vinegar or spirit.  If the aromas complement each other, I go with it.  As with choosing a wine or picking an ice cream flavor, the most important consideration is what you like.

Do keep in mind that the stronger flavors of balsamic vinegar or a hearty burgundy can overpower some of the milder herbs such as basil or sage.  Likewise, the full flavors of rosemary and oregano can overwhelm a delicate rice wine vinegar or white zinfandel.

 
marinade recipes
italian red wine marinade
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup of your favorite red wine
1 tbsp tuscan blend
provencal lemon marinade
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp herbes de provence<
1 tsp garlic salt
easy chicken marinade
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp grandma's poultry blend
easy steak marinade
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp italian blend
 

see these recipes for more marinades

apple chicken risotto
easy pork ribs
rustler's ribs
steak risotto
tangy turkey breast