In our latest blog we are going to take a look at cheap ways to marinade by making your own ready for the BBQ and the warmer weather that will soon be with us.
There’s nothing like getting your barbeque on as the weather improves, and since the weather these days seems to swing from hot to cold, it’s already pretty much the season. For meat and vegetable lovers, the barbecue can be a treat – but this year let’s up our game, seasoning wise.
A lot of the flavour in meat and thick vegetables comes from the sauce they’re served, or seasoned, with. But the thing is, a lot of it can get cooked off when you grill your food. The real way to lock in the flavour is to marinade your meat and vegetables the night before. Let’s run through the best way to get this done.
You’ll first need a shallow glass bowl, flat tray or Tupperware style container to put your marinade bath in – this doesn’t even have to be all that big because the more you can cram in the further your marinade goes. You’re going to want to fill it with your ingredients – meat or vegetable pieces in pretty tight formation, but nevertheless with space between.
A good marinade has three core ingredients – oil, acid and spices – sort of like a salad dressing but usually thicker. The oil helps carry all the good stuff and provides a base, the acid helps tenderise the food, and the spices provide the core flavour. You can also add virtually any sauces or condiments to your heart’s desire.
The ratio for ingredients is simple – just make sure you have a ratio of 3 parts oil and spices to one part acids. So if you’re using a standard oil and vinegar, try to make sure the vinegar is the least represented. However, your ingredients can involve any of the oils, citrus juices and vinegar you can get your hands on, so try your hand at being a flavour mixologist.
In the flavour department the sky’s virtually the limit as long as you keep to the 3:1 ratio – try curry pastes, dried chilli powder, balsamic vinegar, spring onion, celery salt, madras paste, smoked chilli flakes, molasses, smoked paprika, jerk seasoning, cardamom, cumin, star anise, orange peel, cinnamon, wild oregano, or even a dash of wine or cider.
Once concocted, make sure your meat or veg are submerged enough and coated all over with the marinade, then give them some time to stew in the fridge. Veg usually needs just around 2-4 hours, with chicken and seafood needing 6-12, and lamb and beef can take up to a day if you really want to lock in the flavour. Tender fish can often be mildly ‘cooked’ by more acidic marinades, so they can benefit from a long soak and a fast sear in this fashion for a really interesting dish.
Again, experimentation is a great way to work out a style or particular signature ingredient range you use in marinades. They can be rich, or light, spicy or sour. It’s one of the oldest ways to mildly preserve and strongly flavour meat and vegetables, so give it a try as opposed to just cooking food with simple salt and pepper.