How to Perfectly Marinate Meat for the Grill

There is nothing that gives such a summer feeling like grilling. The smoke flavor mixes with the tempting aromas of grilled meat and makes it water in your mouth. Thus, the disappointment can also feel twice as great when you finally put your teeth into the roast and discover that it tastes – nothing! Especially grilled pork or chicken can easily become tasteless. The solution is called marinade. But how long should you really marinate? And what ingredients should be included? Stay tuned as we find out the answers.

What does the marinade really do?

The main task of the marinade is to give taste. Compared to rubbing dry spices on the meat, the marinade usually gives more and deeper flavor. Dry spices also risk being burnt on the grill.

The marinade can also make the meat darker. It is the acidic ingredient in the marinade, e.g. vinegar, wine, lemon juice or yogurt, which penetrates and breaks down the cell walls. However, too much acid is not good as the meat risks becoming hard instead. Not too much acid and not too long is the rule of thumb that applies.

Exotic marinades with fruit

You can also use different fruits, for example, kiwi or pineapple containing enzymes that break down the proteins in the meat. It can give an exciting and exotic touch to the meat, but be careful not to let the meat stay in the marinade for too long. Depending on how ripe the fruits are, they contain more or less enzymes, which makes the process of moulting a little difficult to control. If the meat is too long, you risk getting a spongy texture.

The oil’s being or not being

A marinade that contains oil can prevent the meat from sticking to the grill. It can be compared to when you put fat in the frying pan to avoid the food getting stuck. But if the marinade is very oily, there is a risk of it dropping into the grill and flames opening up. Therefore, wipe off any excess liquid before putting the meat on the grill.

The oil itself gives relatively little flavor but it can, on the other hand, enhance other flavors. If the meat is to remain in the marinade for a long time, oil can be good for balancing the acidic ingredient and preventing it from taking over. By short marination of about one hour, on the other hand, oil can be excluded so that other flavors will have a faster effect.

Does salt in the marinade dry out the meat?

Contrary to what many people think, salt is important for binding the liquid in the roast and making it more juicy. You should therefore not be afraid to have salt in your marinade. However, we want to raise a warning finger – the meat should not be too long in a salted marinade as the texture can be soft and a little spongy. If you want to marinate for a long time you should rather have the salt just before grilling.

If you like, you can have a little sweetness in the marinade, such as honey or a little sugar for a light caramelized taste. However, it can make the meat easier to burn on the grill. Alternatively, you can apply a little honey or a glaze during the grilling itself.

How long should you marinate meat?

The sad answer is that it depends. It can be anything from an hour to a day, depending on the type of meat, the size of the steak, the content of the marinade, etc.

  • Larger pieces of meat should be marinated longer than small ones.
  • Marinate for less time if the marinade contains a lot of acid or fruit
  • Marinate for a short time The marinade contains a lot of salt
  • Exclude oil if you want to marinate for a short time (and vice versa bring oil if you want to marinate longer)
  • It gets “fat” good
  • Fat is important for the meat to taste. Therefore, you should preferably choose pieces of blended fat in. You may want to trim the meat a bit and cut away excess fat at the edges, to prevent large amounts of fat from dripping into the grill and opening flames.

Room temper the meat

Always temper the meat – if you shock the meat by throwing it on the grill directly from the fridge, the meat releases a lot of liquid and becomes dry. For the sake of taste (and to avoid the meat sticking to the grill) you should always allow the meat to rest for half an hour before you start grilling.

Do you have to marinate?

Of course you don’t have to marinate. The meat of good quality often has a lot of flavor in itself, especially good beef. Pork and chicken, on the other hand, may need a little help on the stack to really get to their feet, but avoid drowning the meat in the marinade. Right is always best.

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