How can you make your meats, poultry, seafood and vegetables more tender, juicy and flavourful? Marinate them!

A marinade usually includes a mixture of spices, herbs, seasonings, garlic, oil, and an acidic ingredient such as vinegar, wine or citrus juice.  The acid helps to tenderize meats, making marinades an ideal choice over rubs when it comes to cooking with tougher cuts of meats.

Dairy, such as buttermilk or yogurt contains natural fats, acids and enzymes, and makes a flavourful marinade when combined with spices. Pineapples, figs and papayas are popular choices for low-fat, fruit-based marinades and add a natural sweetness to any dish.  

Use about a quarter to half a cup of marinade per pound of food.  For less mess, marinate your food in a re-sealable bag. Massage and turn the food around in the bag to distribute the marinade evenly. If you're using a dish, choose a wide container that's just big enough to hold the ingredients so the marinade covers them evenly. Wrap your dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Avoid marinating longer than necessary as the acids can toughen the meat and the enzymes can make the meat mushy. Here's a general guide:

Fish and seafood - marinate up to 20 minutes
Vegetables - marinate 20 to 30 minutes
Chicken - marinate up to 6 hours; 2 to 4 hours for skinless
Beef or pork - marinate up to 8 hours, depending on the cut of your meat

To avoid contamination, cook your food as soon as you take it out of the fridge and avoid brushing cooked food with used marinade.

Bring out the best in your dishes with these marinade recipes:

Tags: beef, better chicken, flavour challenge, grilling, soups & stews


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