Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Marinate it

The summer heat is well on the way and the grilling season in full swing. It’s time to talk about seasoning those grilling goodies. Dry spice rubs are used for BBQ, for meats that roast slowly over low heat. Brines are great to season poultry in general and turkey in particular. For grilling meat – high heat, little cooking time – we’re talking marinades.
Generally speaking, a marinade is a blend of acid and oil, herbs and spices. The acid – lemon juice, lime juice or vinegar – breaks down the tissue to tenderize and allow moisture to penetrate. Oil and spices enhance the flavor of the meat.
A common method of marinating meats is to combine all ingredients, pour the mixture in a ziplock bag, add the meat, squeeze all the air out and let it sit for a while. However, instead of having the marinade evenly spread all over your steak, you might end up with oil and acid separating and all the spices, salt and pepper on the bottom of the ziplock. On top of it, the oil in the marinade is creating a barrier, not allowing the seasoning to really permeate the meat.
Kris Doll, Butcher’s man of the meat, suggests this simple fix: Hold on to the seasoning at first and start with marinating in acid only. Marinate a steak with fresh lime juice. Add garlic, onion or cilantro if you wish as those aromatics release their aromas into the acid, flavoring the meat without having to stick to it. Either or, the ziplock method works fine. After about two hours, remove the meat from the lime juice marinade, pad it dry, brush it lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper – and any other spices you might fancy - and slap it on the grill.
Kris Doll likes to finish a grilled steak with an Argentinean chimichurri: Chop garlic and cook it in olive oil until golden brown. Combine garlic, oil and red wine vinegar (ratio 2:1 vinegar and oil), add fresh chopped oregano and parsley and chili flakes. As soon as the steak comes off the fire, pour the chimichurri over it and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Voila, enjoy.

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