The universal thrill of grilling is the flame-cooked taste it gives to food. But the best secret any grill-master owns is marinades, which can give everyday chicken the hot spiciness of a Jamaican jerk or the rich complexity of tandoori chicken. Plus, the acid in marinades tenderizes tough cuts of meat (think flank steak). Best of all, while the food is soaking, you can be doing something else.
Even though marinating is fun and easy, before you begin whisking together our multipurpose recipes, listed below, take a minute to review five basic rules that Melanie Barnard outlines in her very handy cookbook Marinades (HarperPerennial, 1997):
Choose Your Tools
Marinate in a nonreactive container such as glass or ceramic, or even in a sealed plastic bag (food can pick up a bad taste from aluminum or other metals).
Cover It Up
Use a shallow bowl so the marinade covers as much of the food as possible; turn the food at least once an hour.
Timing Is Everything
Seafood should marinate for one hour or less; boneless chicken breast for no more than two hours-otherwise the food gets mushy. Lean pork can marinate up to four hours, and beef can soak for 24 hours or more.
Keep It Cool
Let food marinate in the fridge, not on the kitchen counter, to avoid contracting harmful bacteria.
Do not use leftover marinade as a sauce unless it has been boiled for at least five minutes to destroy bacteria that may have been picked up from the raw meat or fish.
Carla's Citrus Marinade
for chicken and shrimp
Five-Spice Shanghai Marinade
for meat, poultry, seafood
Hunt Country Marinade
for fowl and meat
for fish and shellfish
Minted Turkish Delight Marinade
for chicken and lamb
Tequila Mockingbird Marinade
for chicken and shellfish
for lamb and tuna
Another way to add flavor: See recipes using rubs ›
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