Flavor Up Your Summer

Wait a second. How did it become July 17th already? Man, summer flies by. On the plus side, that means we’re having a lot of fun. Thankfully, we still have half our summer left – plenty of time for all of our sunny pursuits. Like grilling. And eating what we grilled.

With a few tips and a little preparation, you too can grill like a pro. Today’s tips are on using sauces and marinades when cooking. Let’s start with the basics and go from there.

A marinade is typically a savory sauce, usually with an acidic ingredient (citrus, vinegar), used to flavor and tenderize meats before cooking or grilling.

A sauce is a flavorful liquid used to accompany food to enhance or bring out its flavor. Most sauces can be applied before, during and after the cooking process. However, if using a sugary sauce, wait until the end of the cooking time (or immediately after) to apply to avoid burning.

Both marinades and sauces can be used to help moisten drier cuts of meat (i.e. chicken) and are great ways to enhance the flavor of your food.

Marinating times vary between meats. Fish and seafood should marinate for about 30 minutes or so; chicken is ready to go in 2 hours; pork chops require an hour or so, while pork loin, ribs and roasts can take overnight; and red meat times differ depending on the cut. Tougher cuts of meat can marinate up to 8 hours, while a filet needs as little 30 minutes.

For best results and to minimize health risks, marinate proteins in the refrigerator. Don’t re-use marinades. The easiest way to marinate is to use re-sealable kitchen storage bags. When you’re done marinating just take out the protein and throw the bag away. Don’t use aluminum foil to cover marinating meats as a chemical reaction could result and spoil the food.

Some points to remember when using sauces:

  • Thicker, sweeter sauces are best applied in the last minutes of cooking
  • Use thinner, watery sauces to baste meats with long cook times or when using a smoker.
  • If you’re making sauces at home, the best ingredients yield the best sauces
  • Some people like extra sauce, so make matching and complementary sauces available after serving

Here are two quick and easy recipes to get you in the cooking spirit and take your next cookout to the next level:

Skirt Steak Marinade
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon brown mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste

Mix ingredients in a large re-sealable storage bag (sealed). Add up to 1 ½ lbs. of skirt steak. Marinate for at least 6 hours. Cook meat on charcoal grill until desired temperature.

Simple BBQ Sauce
1½ cups ketchup
¼ cup light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dry mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

For a thinner sauce, add up to ½ cup water.

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl. Wisk until smooth. Perfect for chicken, ribs, pulled pork and more.

PJ Butland