How to Marinate Meats

Article by: foodiehq  |  Picture by: Allrecipes
How to Marinate Meats
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Every night across the country, Australian families are sitting down to a plate of “meat and veg”. It may be a simple meal to prepare, but that doesn’t mean it has to be tasteless. Marinades are a quick, easy and cheap way to add flavour to your meat and spice up your family dinner. Follow Foodie HQ’s marinating tips to ensure you always enjoy flavoursome, tender food.
Marinating methods:
There are a few different techniques when it comes to marinating, but they all have one common goal: to add flavour. You can make a paste, liquid or a dry rub of herbs and spices. The method you choose will depend on what you are marinating and the flavour you are hoping to achieve.

With the exception of a “dry rub” most marinades have three common ingredients: oils, acids and seasonings. Oils are used to stop your meat drying out. Acidic ingredients like vinegar, wine, juice and yoghurt are used to tenderise the meat. Seasonings add the flavour, with garlic, pepper, mustard, honey, soy sauce, herbs and spices all common choices.

Marinating times:
The secret to tasty marinated meat is time. For optimum results you need to allow enough time for the marinade to penetrate the meat. Marinades which are herb and spice based can be left on from 1 hour to 1 day, but highly acidic marinades should only infuse for 1 to 2 hours. You could also consider adding the acidic content in the last hour of marinating. Yoghurt and buttermilk are mildly acidic and work well at flavouring and tenderising meat by marinating overnight.

Steak and chops: 2-4 hours
Roast lamb, beef and pork: 4-6 hours (or overnight)
Roast chicken: 4-6 hours (or overnight)
Chicken wings: 2-4 hours
Prawns and squid: 1-2 hours
Fish: 2-4 hours (less time for delicate fillets)

Marinating tips:
  • When marinating for a long period of time it is best to use a glass bowl, rather than a metal one. The acidic ingredients in your marinade can react with the metal and give your food an unpleasant taste.
  • If you don’t have a glass bowl, zip lock bags are a great alternative and easy to turn periodically so all the meat is coated evenly.
  • Foods left in acidic marinades for too long can change colour and texture.
  • Never cut or pierce your meat when marinating. Despite popular belief, this does not encourage the marinade to penetrate the meat. Instead, it allows the meat’s natural juices to escape.
  • Mix your marinades well. You want a uniform flavour, not one mouthful loaded with pepper and another coated in herbs.
  • If your meat isn’t entirely covered by marinade in the bowl, turn it over periodically to ensure an even coating.
  • Refrigerate food that is marinating.
  • NEVER PUT RAW MARINADE OVER COOKED FOOD. You must boil any marinade that you are going to use as a sauce/glaze over the cooked meat.
  • Blot the meat dry before cooking to prevent it ‘stewing’ and to assist with browning the meat.
How to Marinate Meats Step 3 Picture

Foodie HQ favourite marinade recipes:

Greek Marinade

This is a great basic marinade that works well with chicken or lamb. We use it for chicken thigh pieces, or cubed breast pieces for skewers and also for lamb forequarter chops. This is enough marinade for approximately 1.5kg meat.

Combine all ingredients well
1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste

To achieve a Spanish flavour:
Use 2 tablespoons smoked paprika instead of sweet
Add 1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
Leave out lemon juice

Moroccan Lamb Tagine Marinade:

Serves 4

1 kg lamb, cubed
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
(Tip: use a teaspoon of garlic paste or minced garlic to save time)
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 teaspoons of baharat spice mix
Rind of two lemons
Juice of two lemons

Marinate the lamb cubes with salt, garlic, olive oil, baharat spice mix and the lemon rind for at least three hours or overnight if possible.

Cooking Method:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Add the marinated lamb cubes into a tagine or a casserole dish with a lid. Add in the chicken stock and lemon juice then cook in the oven for one hour.

You can add any vegetables you like to this recipe; we would suggest potato or sweet potato which can be added at the start of cooking or beans, zucchini, carrots or anything else you like added 30 minutes into cooking the meat. Serve with couscous and/or flat bread.

Check out Foodie HQ for more ‘How To’ guides on our blog and other fabulous foodie information like lists of local Farmer's Markets, Cooking Classes and Food & Wine Events.
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