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Marinating Basics Before You Grill
Grilling season is upon us, and grilling and marinating go hand in hand, much like pork roast and potatoes or bacon and eggs. Some of the best grill recipes I’ve ever used incorporate marinade. And there are four big reasons for that:
- Marinating enhances the flavor of your meat. You can maximize taste by giving your meat, or even vegetables, a soak in even the most basic of ingredients.
- Keep your meat moist and juicy by marinating. Since the surface tissue of your meat soaks up and holds the marinade, the added moisture keeps the meat from drying out as it cooks.
- Marinating creates a beautiful crust. Not only do you want your food to taste delicious, but you want it to look yummy. Presentation is an important part of any meal. Obtain that beautiful crust on grilled meat by adding a bit of sugar or oil to your marinade.
- Last, but not least, marinating is healthy for you! Grilling poultry, red meat, and fish can create HCAs (heterocyclic amines) that are potentially carcinogenic. According to expert research, you can be reduce HCA by as much as 99 percent through marinating.
So, if you decide to marinate your meat, what should you include in the marinade? Most marinades have three basic components:
- Acids (wines, vinegars, and citrus juices) help soften the meat’s surface, allowing for absorption; you use the smallest amount of these to achieve the desired results.
- Fats, such as oils or coconut milk or yogurt, help build up the moisture; it’s fairly standard to use a 1:3 acid/fat ratio.
- Seasonings are the main and dominant part of the marinade. They carry the majority of your flavor and can help with caramelization (the creation of that beautiful crust).
But the answer to the question is more specific, depending upon the taste you prefer. Are you looking for a punch of spice or a soft hint of sweetness? Or do you desire an Asian style flavor over a Mexican grill? You can get as creative as you would like with your marinade ingredients! It’s that straight forward.
While marinating is really quite simple, here are a few basic tips that will help with the process, and there are some that should be followed for health purposes.
- Use a lot of flavoring or spices. You want the flavor to soak in and still pop after grilling.
- Score the meat. Scoring the meat before marinating will help the marinade penetrate deeper into the meat, once again helping out with moistness and flavor.
- Thoroughly coat the meat. A Ziploc bag can help with this as you can turn it over or shake it to make sure every inch of the meat is covered.
- Use appropriate marinating times. Veggies are more porous and can absorb the marinade in as little as 30 minutes, while meat takes a little longer. A couple of hours is good for chops or steaks. Other meats can be soaked for up to 24 hours.
- Refrigerate while marinating. Refrigeration helps keep the meat from developing harmful bacteria.
- Throw away used marinade. Again, this has to do with food safety. If you want to use marinade as a sauce, simply make extra and set it aside for use after grilling. Do not use marinade that has been contaminated by raw meat.
Now that we have discussed the basics of marinating and the purposes of using it for grilling, I’ll share a couple of my favorite marinade and grill recipes:
Marinated Oriental Pork Tenderloin with Fried Rice. While the pork tenderloin is a succulent cut of meat, this recipe makes it marvelously tender and absolutely delicious. If you like Asian food, this grilled dish will satisfy your craving. I know it did for me and John!
Marina’s Pork Marinade with Marina’s Cranberry Chutney. One night as I was getting ready to make dinner, I decided to try something different. We were going to grill chops that night, and I thought “Why not make my own marinade?” So I opened the refrigerator and began to go through it. I chose ingredients that would complement each other as well as our Circle B Ranch pasture-fed Berkshire pork.. The resulting recipe turned out to be absolutely delicious. I was truly honored when the recipe published in Missouri’s Midwest Living Magazine!
If you enjoyed this blog, be sure to look for “Get it on the Grill” Circle B Ranch’s comprehensive article on grilling basics, tips, and tasty grilling recipes.