Marinades: Making Your Meals Special

Groceries keep getting more and more expensive. It seems that the prices of foods, especially meats and produce go up twice a week! I’m not independently wealthy so buying meat and any produce I don’t have from my summer garden really puts a dent in my budget. One way to make the most of the inexpensive cuts of meat and tough vegetables is by using marinades.

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There are some go-to marinades I use and they’re easily adjusted depending on the meat, fish, fowl, or vegetable I’m going to marinate. Here are a few:

Basic Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried herb, such as thyme, rosemary or oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Apple Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1small garlic clove, very finely minced
  • Pinch of freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard

I love this on pork!

Teriyaki Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 /4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice (no sugar added)

Hot Stuff Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or up it to 2 teaspoons if you really like it hot)
  • Pinch of thyme and oregano (optional)

Greek Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons oregano (Greek oregano is best for this, of course!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I usually use about 3/4 teaspoon each)

My daddy was Greek so these flavors are among my favorites!

Marinades tenderize so you don’t want to leave them on too long or your meat, poultry, fish or vegetables will become mushy in texture. The Teriyaki Marinade should be left on a bit longer as it is a lower acid marinade.

My marinating times are:

2 hours for beef roasts, lamb roasts, and pork roasts (excluding beef and pork tenderloins)

1 hour for large beef steaks and bone-in chicken

40 – 45 minutes for small beef steaks, boneless chicken, pork chops, beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin, and lamb chops.

30 minutes for most fish, although octopus and squid should be left for about 40 minutes and shrimp should only be marinated for about 15 minutes.

Never use the marinade on cooked food after you’ve marinated raw foods. You can pour a little of it on the food right before cooking or boil it to use as a sauce. Just make sure the marinade reaches the proper cooking temperature for the food you’ve marinated, i.e. 145° for pork marinades,165° for marinades used for chicken, 145° for beef, etc.

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