Saturday, 4 October 2008

Marinades for Meat




Although I’ve tried to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our diets, the truth is that my family are all hardened carnivores - we simply love meat. Pork, beef, ostrich, reindeer, venison… you name it and I’ll probably eat it. The same applies to poultry.

For years I knew nothing of marinades. My mother certainly never used them and they weren’t popular in Norway during the years I lived there. That has, however, changed.

Since discovering the secrets of a good marinade our meals have tasted much better. Even LM, who’s incredibly fussy about her food, will often tell me how delicious a piece of meat tasted even though it may have started it’s shelf life as a plain old pork chop. Marinades are, as far as I’m concerned, the cook’s best friend.

Ok, so they add a bit to the cost of a meal but what you get back in terms of flavour, tenderness and sheer eating pleasure is by far worth those extra pennies. A marinade can turn a good meal into a great one.

If you’ve never used a marinade before, I suggest you make your own rather than use one of the ready prepared bottled varieties. Not only is it cheaper, but the more you learn about marinading, the more you’ll be able to mess around with flavours yourself, bringing individuality to every meat or poultry dish you prepare.

A good marinade should contain some kind of acid as this breaks down the muscle tissue making the meat more tender, with the most commonly used acidic ingredients being citrus juices, vinegars and wine. Although the acid will flavour the meat, it should also contain some kind of added flavouring such as herbs, spices, garlic, onions and the likes. Lastly, but very importantly, it should contain some form of oil as this is what infuses the meat with the flavours. Olive oil is most often used. Some insist that it should be extra virgin although I’ve never found it necessary.

To help get you started, here are a few of my favourite marinades:


Simple All-Meat Marinade

For each portion of meat use:

½ small onion, finely chopped
½ tbsp Mixed Herbs
25 ml olive oil
1 ½ tbsp white wine vinegar (or distilled malt vinegar if that‘s all you have)


Sweet & Spicy Pork Marinade

For each portion use:

1 ½ tbsp honey
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ tbsp soy sauce
25 ml olive oil
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp cinnamon


Norwegian Beef Marinade

For each portion use:

25 ml olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
½ tsp brown sugar
1 clove of garlic (or 1 inch garlic paste)
½ cm fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
½ a small red chilli, finely chopped


Quick Chicken Marinade

For each portion use:

1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsps olive oil

and finally, especially for Catz...

Garlic & Coriander Marinade for Pork

For each portion use:

2 ½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic paste
½ tbsp fresh, chopped coriander


Mix marinade ingredients in a lidded bowl, plastic container (Tupperware style) or zip-lock type bag and bung the meat in, making sure it’s all nicely covered. Use your fingers and rub it in well. Put it in the fridge and then leave it for 2 hours at least for pork and chicken, and 4 hours for beef. An extra couple of hours will improve the flavours and the larger the cut of meat, the longer it should be left. In fact, because marinades were first used as a way of preserving meat, you can actually leave it for up to a couple of days. I do think the meat tends to go a bit too mushy if left for too long though so 8-10 hours is usually my maximum.

If you’re able, turn the meat now and then to ensure even coverage. Of course, there’s no point dashing home from working during your lunch break just for this but if you're close to the fridge anyway, it's worth doing.

Fish and vegetables can also benefit from a good marinade but as this is about meat, I won’t elaborate here. A Google search should bring up a good few results though.

I’m so fond of marinades that I can’t actually remember the last time I prepared a piece of meat without one. It must have been a beef fillet steak - that’s the only meat I find perfect ‘as is’ but not one we have very often.

Sharon J

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25 comments:

emmani said...

mmmmm... my mouth is watering, nope drooling...

Jules said...

This may not sound sensible to you but IMO meat should taste of meat and nothing else. Why add flavours to it?

emmani said...

LOL...

I just googled 'IMO meat' and was quite stumped as to what it was... I thought maybe it was like Halal or something!

I now realise it means In My Opinion!!!!

Of course you have the right to your own opinion Jules, but I can't imagine life without herbs and spices and salt... it would be very boring,..and I doubt if I would survive long in India!

IMO they ENHANCE the flavours of meat.

Anonymous said...

Jules, I know this is an unusual concept for some to grasp but recipes of all kinds involve additives, be they just water, salt and pepper. How do you eat your meat? Raw or cooked? Do you eat curries or any kind of spiced food?

Catz said...

Thank you so much Sharon! I am going to copy them all out ready to try when I am able to get back into the kitchen again! They all sound delish!

Grow Ur Own said...

Those are great recipes Sharon, can't wait to try them out. I love marinades too, they do add something special to a meal. One of my favorites is Honey & Mustard.

2 tbsp grain or French mustard
2 tbsp clear honey
the juice and zest 1 lemon.

Mix all the ingredients together and then cover your preferred meat in it and leave for about 4 hours.

Lovely with pork and chicken...mmm.

notesfromthefrugaltrenches.com said...

I don't even eat meat and I'm licking my lips!

Thanks, will remember these for when I have guests and may even try a couple to marinate tofu!

Lizzie said...

Hi Sharon
We are a bunch of serious carnivores. I normally marinade for barbies but not so much for 'indoor cooking'. I am going to now though, good shout.
Love the IMO Meat Emmani, glad I am not the only one who gets completely the wrong end of the stick!
Lizzie

Chaotic Kerri said...

Sounds delicious Sharon can't wait to try them out. I tend to make my own marinades with whatever is lying around marmalade, brown sugar, cloves, herbs, spices to name but a few.

Sharon J said...

@ Lizzie. Marinades are excellent for barbies, aren't they? Oh, all that sticky stuff! I'm sure you won't regret trying it on 'indoor meat' either though :)

@ Chaotic Kerri. That's the great thing with marinades I think - once you know the basics, it's just a matter of using what you have at hand to get delicious tasting meat.

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