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Summer Eats - Meat Meets Heat
CBC Radio | July 28, 2006

Rubs and Marinades

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Rubs and Marinades

Everyone has a barbecue secret, and often that secret is what happens to the meat before it hits the grill, the special marinade or secret blend of herbs and spices that adds that extra flavour – and some of the fun – to barbecuing.

When it comes to rubs, Craig Youdale divides the ingredients into four basic groups:

Herbs: usually dried, such as oregano or thyme
Spices: cumin and other curry ingredients, mustard
Alums: onions, garlic
Heat: peppers, chili powder, cayenne

"It's kind of fun to make these things on your own," says Youdale.

To add your own special flavour to your grill, experiment with these four groups of flavours, and when you've found a mix you like, throw it together in a large batch so it's ready for the whole barbecue season.

Rubs add flavour, but marinades add a different component, acid, which tenderizes the meat before it goes on the grill. The acid usually takes the form of vinegar or wine, or sometimes beer.

How long you let something sit in the marinade depends on the meat. The cheaper the cut, the longer you let it sit. Marinades aren't one size fits all. Better meats should be marinated for a shorter time and with a lighter sauce, to let the meat speak for itself.

"You've got less tender cuts of meat that you can marinate a long time and really put lots of spice on them, and then you've got delicate more subtle things," says Youdale.

"If you've got a beautiful, really nice piece of fresh halibut, don't go too crazy with spices."

Sugars such as honey, maple syrup, corn syrup or white sugar can add a different dimension to your food, but take care. Sugar will caramelize quickly or even burn on the grill.

Finally, don't forget the salt and pepper.


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