As you cook for maximum flavor, it’s often very easy to add flavor before, during and after the cooking process, no matter what dish you’re making.
Adding in balanced flavors before you even turn the stove or grill on often comes through in marinating. You’ve probably heard this term often in grilling or baking meats like chicken, pork and beef. But this technique of adding flavor to your protein is just the start.
The difference between choosing to marinate your dish and skipping this step can make a big difference in the overall taste, texture and end result of your food.
If you’re looking to add flavor to your meats, vegetables and more, the art of marinating as a cooking technique can be helpful as you grow your cooking skills.
To help, here’s a quick guide on what marinating is, how it works and just some of the many ways you can implement this popular cooking technique into your meal preparation.
Marinating food allows it to absorb the flavors of the oil and vinegar and other ingredients it rests in for a period of time. In the case for tough cuts of meat, the marinade works to tenderize the cut. Tenderizing helps keep the meat full of its flavorful juices as it’s cooked and cut. The acid in the seasoned liquid, often a balsamic vinegar, helps to break down a meat’s tissue and absorb all the flavors and moisture. As the meat, poultry or fish sits in the flavored liquid, it’ll take on those flavors as well.
As most marinades contain an acidic component, such as balsamic vinegar, it’s best to marinate your food in a glass, ceramic or stainless steel container, never aluminum. You can also easily marinate in a simple ziplock bag that allows you to mix the ingredients together with the meat or veggie.
Our go-to ratio for a simple marinade is for each pound of food you have, whether that be meat, fish, poultry or a vegetable, use one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Feel free to adjust those ingredient proportions according to your preferred tastes and what dish you’re creating.
Once you have the oil and vinegar - and any other additional ingredients you want to incorporate, pour that flavorful liquid over your dish and let it sit. Since it is possible to over-marinate your food, marinate for at least an hour or overnight, in the refrigerator. Remember to turn your meat, fish, poultry or vegetable over to the other side, or stir around, to make sure it is thoroughly absorbing the flavors.
When it’s time to get cooking your already flavorful dish, take it out of the fridge 30-45 minutes before you actually start heating it up. This allows it to come to room temperature and ensure proper cooking times. And just like that, you can grill, saute or bake as you normally would, now with much more added flavor.
To tenderize and add flavor to your various meats, marinating is a popular and easy method. And it’s also so easy to mix and match your flavors and the type of cuisine you’re preparing in your marinade prep. It’s as simple as selecting an oil and vinegar that pair well together. To help get you started, here are some of our most popular marinating combinations for meats, poultry, fish and more.
This Garlic-Peach Marinade combines the sweet burst of fresh peaches with our Peach Balsamic and the herbaceous Garlic Olive Oil, along with notes of honey, soy sauce and ginger, to create a flavor profile perfect for chicken, shrimp or pork. This simple beef tenderloin marinade uses a single varietal olive oil with other flavorful ingredients like shallot, garlic and a variety of mixed herbs you can cater to your preferences. Add some sweetness to your next grilled or sauteed chicken with this Raspberry and Persian Lime marinade perfect for the summer season. Balance the flavors of sweet and spicy with this pork marinade that embraces the sweet heat of Peperoncino Honey Vinegar and a single varietal olive oil. With so many flavor combinations, you can add flavor through a marinade with all your proteins.
If veggies are more your thing, you can also marinate your favorite combinations for an extra level of flavor. These Marinated Veggie Skewers make a great healthy snack or side that’s packed with flavor and good for you, too.
When you think of things to marinate, the category of cheese may not come to the top of your list. But, did you know marinating cheese is an easy and simple way to incorporate more flavor into your dairy snack? This Marinated Cheese recipe uses the herbaceous notes of Tuscan Herb and Thyme to elevate the profile of your favorite cheese.
Marinating is a great and useful cooking technique that adds flavor and tenderizes meat to amp up the quality of your dish. From meats, fish and poultry to vegetables to even cheese, there’s no limit to the flavor combinations you can discover. Pick out your favorites and see what flavorful marinade you can whip up today.
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