Kitchen Focus

Every summer, people look to their grills to help them make delicious, hassle-free meals. And grills can do just that ... with a little help. There's nothing like a marinade to bring flavor to your and retain moisture in every bite. Marinades truly are your grill's best friend!

While there are as many kinds of marinades out there as there are different tastes, a good marinade does include a handful of components that allow it to successfully lend flavor and moisture to food. Here are the key components to look for in a good marinade:

  • Acid: to help tenderize your food -- often wine, citrus juice or vinegar
  • Oil: to help prevent sticking and help "glue" together your marinade
  • Seasonings: to bring flavor to the meal -- often onions, garlic, herbs or spices

    Once you've successfully incorporated these into your marinade, you're ready to discover the joys of delightfully-flavored food that is moist and succulent.

    As with all grilled foods, it's important to avoid scorching a marinated piece of meat, fish or poultry (or tofu or veggies or ... you get the idea). The good news is that marinades actually help you do just that. While many foods blacken quickly when exposed to high heat and especially flames, foods that have taken a good soak in a marinade will resist blackening. Just don't take that to be a green light to cranking up the heat and applying flames directly to your meal!

    Grill marinated foods as you would their un-marinated kin and you're likely to find you are more than happy with the results. In addition to a meal that's maintained the kind of moisture you'd expect from an oven-roasted meal, you will be able to introduce flavors that are hard to achieve with simple seasonings or even more complex rubs.

    An article on the merits of good marinades wouldn't be complete without a few examples! Therefore, I present three great recipes that bring with them a wide variety of flavors and uses. Enjoy them and feel free to tweak the ingredients to fit your personal tastes.

    Asian Black Bean Marinade

    This oriental-inspired marinade is great with poultry, pork or lamb.
    • 2 T. black bean sauce
    • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
    • 2 T. sherry
    • 2 T. soy sauce
    • 1 T. sesame oil

    Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously to combine.

    • Yields: 1/2 cup
    • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

    Tandoori Marinade

    This classic Indian marinade is perfectly paired with chicken that's got a date with the grill.
    • 2 tsp. sunflower oil
    • 5 oz. low fat yogurt
    • 1 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
    • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
    • 1 tsp. ground coriander
    • 1 tsp. garam masala
    • 1 tsp. paprika
    • 1 large clove garlic, crushed

    Mix all of the ingredients together. Add your prepared chicken and allow to marinate for at least one hour in the refrigerator before grilling.

    • Yields: 1 cup
    • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

    Simple Rib Sauce

    This sauce is easy to put together and will last several days in the refrigerator and can even be frozen.
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. dry mustard powder
    • 1 clove garlic, crushed
    • 1/2 small bay leaf
    • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp. paprika
    • 3/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce
    • 1/2 c. Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/4 c. cider vinegar
    • 2 c. beef stock
    • 1/4 c. vegetable oil

    Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously to combine.

    • Yields: 3 cups
    • Preparation Time: 5 minutes
    If there's a topic that you'd like to see covered in this column, let me know. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

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