Marinades

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Marinades are a wonderful way to flavor meat. They can be simple or involved, depending on your desires, but they’re also a great way to use up ingredients. Have some leftover parsley? Make a marinade. Tomatoes? Make a marinade. An orange? You get the idea.

Generally, a marinade is composed of three parts: the oil, the acid, and the flavoring. The oil is simply the carrier. It can be a neutral oil like grape seed, an extra-virgin olive oil, or an infused oil.

The acidic option depends on what food you’re preparing. If I’m marinating beef for fajitas, I’d choose lime juice as my acid. If I’m marinating chicken for a stir fry, I’d choose sake or mirin. But there are other options as well. Orange juice? Pineapple juice? A ripe tomato? Sure! They all work.

The third part of creating a marinade is the most fun, because you can get really creative. Garlic is always important to me. There’s not one cuisine I can think of that doesn’t utilize this wonderfully pungent allium, be it Indian, Asian, Mexican, and so forth. Ginger is also perfect in Asian- and Indian -inspired marinades.

The next option for me would be fresh herbs, like cilantro, basil, or parsley. They provide beautiful color and freshness to a marinade.

Chile peppers puréed in a marinade provide wonderful heat as well as flavor. Just remove the stem of fresh jalapeños, for example, and pop them into the blender with the other ingredients. Alternatively, use roasted peppers or chile pepper purée, of which there are many varieties.

Here are some spice options for marinades: Cumin, chili powder, smoky or sweet paprika, coriander, Chinese 5-spice powder, curry powder, cayenne, chipotle, ancho chile pepper.

Other ingredients to flavor marinades include pesto, miso, ketchup, soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, berbere, harissa, romesco, mustard, honey, maple syrup, roasted red bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce… the list is literally endless.

The following marinade is basically a red wine-based vinaigrette, seasoned with garlic, dried herbs, and cayenne pepper flakes.

Here is a marinade made with olive oil, lime juice, garlic and parsley puréed together for chicken breasts. The combination makes a wonderful green marinade, which colors the chicken beautifully after grilling.

For a beef tri-tip, I created an Asian-inspired marinade. I used soy sauce, sake, sesame seed oil, chile paste (Sambal oelek), ginger and garlic. After 24 hours I seared the thin slices of beef in peanut oil for a quick dinner. It’s that simple.

Yogurt can also be used as the “carrier oil,” which you learn about quickly when you indulge yourself in Indian cuisines. So for my final example of a marinated meat, I’m using a mixture of yogurt and harissa.

For a more involved Indian-inspired marinade, I would include garlic, ginger, and curry powder, but I wanted to show how easy it is to create a flavorful and unique marinade. It took10 seconds to prepare and you don’t even need to use a blender.

I’m simply smothering a pork tenderloin with the marinade, waiting a few hours, and then roasting it in the oven.

Marinating requires very little work. It’s just about planning. Try different variations and see what magic you can come up with!

Mintade

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Many years ago when I was planning my daughter’s wedding day, with the anticipation of having lots people in the house, I wanted to have a refreshing drink available as an alternative to water. And an alternative to booze as well, in order to prevent any potential mishaps. Maybe I’ve watched too many viral videos of drunken wedding parties!

The small evening wedding was at our house, so it was a busy day. I was smart enough to have a casual bridesmaid lunch catered, which really freed up my time. My first instinct, of course, was to do it all myself. Fortunately I changed my mind. The one thing I really wanted on that special day was to thoroughly enjoy it.

I did make individual granola-yogurt parfaits for anyone wanting an easy breakfast. And I served coffee, bottled waters, plus some champagne later in the day, but like I mentioned, I wanted something extra to offer as a non-alcoholic drink.

I had come across a recipe for Mintade, and in my mind I said it like it was a French word, with a short “a” sound. Which now seems really dumb on my part. It was meant so be pronounced like lemonade, or limeade. Duh. In any case, the recipe sounded perfect for the occasion.

Another alternative could have been a fruit and cucumber water, similar to what’s served at spas, but I wasn’t sure if that kind of water would be enjoyed by everybody.

This ade is a refreshing combination of citrus juices mixed with lots of mint. It’s very simple to make. It’s also very pretty. You can either serve this ade chilled or room temperature. The original recipe calls for water added to the fruit juices, but I added sparkling water. If you also use sparkling water, serve the ade in smaller pitchers so it doesn’t go flat.

Mintade

Mint leaves, torn
Approximately 1 tablespoon white sugar
Grapefruits, preferably pink
Oranges
Limes
Lemons
Grenadine, optional
Sparkling water, chilled

Place the torn mint leaves in a pitcher, preferably a glass one.


Sprinkle the sugar over the mint leaves and muddle for about one minute. Keep in mind that this drink is called mint ade, not citrus ade. The mint is a very integral part.

Begin juicing all of the fruit.


Add the juice, through a strainer, to the pitcher.

I used 4 grapefruits, 4 oranges, 2 lemons, and 6 limes, to approximately 1 cup packed mint leaves.

If you have the time, Cover the pitcher tightly and chill overnight in the refrigerator to better infuse the mint.

Add some grenadine to taste/ I used approximately 2 ounces. This was not in the original recipe, but I don’t like adding cup fulls of white sugar to drinks. That’s the only problem I have with mojitos. So the grenadine adds some sweetness and a little color as well. But it’s completely optional.


To finish, pour the sparkling water into the pitcher, an equal amount as there is juice.

Serve immediately, using a filtered lid to keep the mint from getting into the glasses. There’s nothing worse than mint in your teeth!

note: If necessary, depending on the occasion, the mintade would be wonderful with a slug of vodka, rum, or tequila! And instead of sparkling water, you could always add Prosecco!