Mad for marinades 0
Honey soy chicken drumsticks. (Supplied)
Summer is practically knocking on the door and thoughts turn once again to the delights of alfresco dining.
What better way to delight family and friends than with a barbeque that delivers stunning flavours and succulent results?
One cooking method that guarantees tasty success is to marinate the foods for a few hours or even overnight. Pre-marinating meats or fish, with either the wet or dry method, not only enhance flavours and tenderness but also protects foods from the high heats often associated with enthusiastic barbecuers.
The exact origin of marinating food prior to cooking is lost in the dusty pages of history. The Spanish claim it's derived from the word marinada or "pickle in brine," while the Italian word marinare means "to pickle fish." It's thought the early Egyptians and Romans also used marinades in their cooking, as did many ancient Asian cultures -- the early realization that tainted meats could be concealed behind fragrant marinades may have been a huge motivator.
Wet marinades usually consist of a tenderizing acidic base such as lemon, vinegar, wine or yogurt. These can then be complemented with salts, herbs and spices. During this soaking process moisture penetrates the tough connective tissues found in meats as well as maximizes flavour prior to cooking. A dry marinade uses salt as its base. This is then infused with further flavours and "rubbed" into the meat, poultry or fish to break down proteins. This method will also result in a tasty "bark" after cooking.
There are some marinades that do away with cooking altogether, an example being the increasingly popular dish of ceviche, which relies on the highly acidic nature of lime juice to "cook" the fresh fish as it soaks.
It couldn't be much easier than that, could it?
In fact, the use of marinades not only ensures enhanced taste and texture but makes life that much easier by preparing dishes the day before.There are literally thousands of marinade recipes available for practically every cut of meat, chicken or fish.
From the golden glazed honey soy to the classic Greek lemon, thyme and garlic or local maple varieties, they're inexpensive and well worth the few minutes they take to prepare.
HONEY SOY CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS
8 chicken drumsticks
1/2 cup (125ml) each soy sauce and honey
1 Tbsp. (15ml) sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 Tbsp. (45ml) cilantro, chopped
Pre-heat oven or barbeque to 375F (190'C). In a glass bowl combine soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, garlic and cilantro. Add drumsticks, coating thoroughly with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours (overnight is better). Remove drumsticks from marinade (reserve marinade for basting during cooking process) and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional) prior to cooking.
Bake 15 minutes, baste and turn. Cook for a further 15 minutes until golden brown and sticky.
GREEK LEMON LAMB
12 lamb chops (about 2 1/2 lb./1.25kg)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. (30ml) olive oil
1 tsp. (5ml) dried oregano
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. (15ml) lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Toss cutlets in marinade until well coated; cover with plastic wrap for about 1-2 hours prior to cooking. Remove cutlets from marinade and cook on a hot grill or barbeque to taste.
Lynda Hayden is a food writer and stylist who has recently relocated back to Toronto after having spent 40 years in Sydney, Australia.