7 secrets of the magic marinade
All the sun has to do is peep out of the clouds and we all sprint to the garden to fire up the barbecues and mooch around a table. Whilst marinating ourselves in sun tan lotion and white wine, we can also add lots of flavour to our food with some simple marinades. Getting the right mixture of herbs, spices and liquids can make all the difference to any meal.
Here are 7 quick tips to take your marinates from mundane to marvellous in minutes.
1. Rule number 1 is you need an acid. It helps get the marinade into the structure of whatever you are marinating. A vinegar, some fruit juice, lime, that kind of thing.
2. Fish and veggies prefer a quick bath – max. half an hour.
3. Meats like a longer languish – think an hour or more.
4. Dried spices last well in the marinade and the barbecue heat, as so do hardy herbs like thyme and rosemary.
5. Soft herbs like dill and parsley tend to go oxidised and slimy so save those for a last minute addition before serving.
6. If you use pineapple juice keep the marinade time down to no more than half an hour. Pineapple contains something called bromelain which breaks down the structure of meat to pulp; in not very long at all. It's why pineapple pickers must wear gloves otherwise their hands would rot off. This may sound like an old wives tale but trust me - I once left a piece of skirt steak in pineapple juice for 3 hours to see what happened... it dissolved to mush. Dissolvable barbecue dinner. It won't catch on.
7. To keep meat moist as it cooks have a spray bottle of water, oil or beer handy and give them a good spritz before closing the BBQ lid for a couple of minutes. The steam will keep the juices flowing.