One of essential keys to unleashing the best flavors and textures from grilled meats and vegetables is in the marinade. Marinades not only add zest and flavor to grilled foods, but also serve as natural tenderizers for meats that have tendencies to become tough during grilling, such as flank stank or pork chops. When your goal is to flavor and tenderize, choose a marinade that contains an acidic element, such as fresh citrus juices from limes, lemons or oranges, vinegar, or wine. To marinate meats, combine all ingredients in your marinade recipe and let stand for 15 minutes to combine flavors. Place in a large airtight plastic zip-lock bag and add raw meat to the marinade. Seal and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours and a maximum of overnight. By allowing meats to marinade for prolonged periods of time, the flavor of the seasonings and juices from the marinades will more deeply penetrate the meats and result in flavorful and tender creations on the grill. Marinating works well with beef, chicken, pork and shrimp, as well as fish, which can be marinated in much less time because of its tender consistency. When grilling marinated meats, brushing them with reserved marinade during cooking time will yield even more flavor as the natural juices escape through the openings of the grate. Marinating vegetables, however, requires much less time. Most vegetables should be adequately marinated within 20 to 30 minutes for optimum flavor and crispness. Over-marinating of vegetables can result in soggy, discolored veggies and can override their natural flavor and goodness, so a quick marinade or a sprinkling with a good dry rub for veggies just prior to grilling is generally your best bet. Some good choices for marinating vegetables include seasoned broth, nonfat Italian dressings and dry white wines seasoned with herbs.
A dry rub is a combination of seasonings and spices that are literally “rubbed” on raw meats before grilling and, in essence, flavors the surface only as opposed to penetrating the meat as a marinade will do. The rub can be applied as lightly or as heavily as you wish, depending on how much flavor you’d like to achieve. As the heat cooks the outside of the meat, the rub adheres to the surface resulting in intense flavor that won’t readily dissipate during the cooking process.
Below are some recipes for marinades and rubs that can successfully implemented with beef, chicken, pork or seafood.