Summer is finally upon us and if you're like me you tend to associate certain things with the season. The smell of suntan lotion, local food festivals and of course, grilling. There’s nothing that I don’t enjoy more than a summer BBQ on a patio and the smell of charcoal warming. And while you may not be a grill expert, it isn't difficult to make juicy and flavorful meals with just a few ingredients. July is National Grilling Month and so we are going to ring in this celebration with the most important aspect of grilling: marinatingAnchor. A good marinade will infuse your meat/vegetables with flavor, will help to lock in moisture and will tenderize your meats. A good marinade should contain 3 things: an acid, a little oil and spices. The acid can come from citrus fruits or vinegar and I prefer to use olive oil in my marinades. Keep the idea in mind that your marinade should have a 1:3 ratio of acidity to oil. The acid will help to tenderize the food while the oil will help provide moisture.
While most people tend to over-marinate their food, I highly recommend any amount of time between 30 minutes to 2 hours. Over-marinating your food will result in a mushy texture when using ingredients such as pineapple or a tough texture when using acid-rich citrus fruits. The smaller the food, the shorter the marinade. I've chosen citrus-based marinades for 4 meats today: shrimp, beef, pork and chicken. Each marinade contains a difference citrus fruit, olive oil and a variety of Litehouse Instantly Fresh Herbs. You can always adjust the flavors based on your liking and I recommend a one hour marinade with all of these meats. Shrimp In a medium bowl combine the juice of 2 limes, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon Instantly Fresh Cilantro, 1 tablespoon Instantly Fresh Jalapenos and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir the ingredients well to combine and then submerge 1 pound of uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp into the marinade. Stir the shrimp to coat with the marinade and allow it to sit for 1 hour before threading onto bamboo skewers to grill. Thread a combination of fresh vegetables to the skewer along with the shrimp such as red pepper, limes or onions. Grill the shrimp over direct heat for 5-6 minutes, turning the kebob 1 time during cooking. Beef For the beef kebobs I opted for a Thai flair by using the Litehouse Thai Peanut dressing. Salad dressings are another great option to use for marinades because they typically already combine an acid, oil and seasoning. Cut up 1 pound of Black Angus Tri-Tip cut into cubes and place them in a medium bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of Litehouse Thai Peanut dressing over the top of the meat along with 1/4 cup of fresh pineapple juice. Toss the meat to coat and marinate for 1 hour. Thread the meat onto bamboo skewers along with chunks of pineapple, red onion and red peppers and grill for 10 minutes or longer, depending on the degree of doneness that you prefer.
Chicken One of my favorite chicken marinades is lemon and herbs. Cut up 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts into large cubes and place them in a medium bowl. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the top and add in 1/2 cup of olive oil. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Instantly Fresh Italian Herb Blend and 1/2 teaspoon of salt over the top and toss to combine. Marinate for 1 hour. Thread the chicken onto bamboo skewers along with lemon wedges, asparagus and green peppers. Grill for 10 minutes, turning once during the time until the chicken is no longer pink in the center. Pork I'm a huge fan of all things sweet when it comes to pork. This marinade combines orange and lime along with a bit of spice to give this pork a Caribbean flavor. In a medium bowl whisk together the juice of 1/2 of an orange, 1 lime and 1/2 cup olive oil. Add in 1 tablespoon of Instantly Fresh Cilantro, 1 teaspoon of Instantly Fresh Garlic and 1 teaspoon of Instantly Fresh Red Onion. In addition to this, sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of cumin and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cut up 1 pound of pork tenderloin into large cubes and stir into the marinade to coat. Allow the pork to marinate for 1 hour before threading onto bamboo skewers along with orange wedges, red onion and red pepper. Place on grill for about 10 minutes, or until the pork is no longer pink in the center, turning halfway through.
Marinades can offer a magnitude of flavors when it comes to grilling. If you stick to the 1:3 rule of acid and oil, and use proper grilling temperatures, you can also become a grill expert. Don't be scared to play with new flavors!