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Fire Up Flavour: Marinating Masterclass for Mouthwatering BBQ

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BBQ chefs are renowned around the world for creating some of the most mouthwatering and flavourful dishes known to man. How can it be that this one cooking method can consistently create delicious dishes? Some may say it is the open flame, and others may say that it is the culinary traditions that infuse the flavours that people love so much.

While the answer will vary from person to person and chef to chef, marinades inevitably play a critical role in creating a mouthwatering BBQ dish. These savoury, acidic sauces help to create complex flavours and tenderise meats, adding a whole new layer of depth to your BBQ dishes.

What Does a Marinade Do?

A marinade uses a combination of salt, fats, acidic liquids, herbs and spices to change the flavour and texture of meats and other ingredients. A properly balanced marinade will also ensure that meats remain moist and juicy, helping to create a wonderfully balanced dish.

In a marinade, salt will draw out moisture from the meat and the brine will replace that moisture, infusing the meat with the taste of the herbs and spices. This will also help the fibres of the meat to retain more moisture and remain tender, even after the cooking process.

What Makes a Marinade Great?

  • Tenderizing Ingredients

For a proper marinade, you need to have an acidic ingredient that will break down and weaken the surface of the proteins. There are many ingredients that fit this criteria including vinegars, hot sauces, pickle juice and more.

  • Spices and Herbs

This is how you impart flavour to your meat. Depending on where you grew up and the culture you were surrounded by, the list of familiar spices and herbs will vary, but the only truly important factor is that the flavours you choose to add to your marinade are flavours that you enjoy on the meats that you are cooking.

Spices can range from sweet to spicy and strong to nearly imperceptible and herbs will range from bold and potentially overpowering to subtle. Certain meats traditionally pair better with particular flavours but your palette will inevitably be the judge.

  • Fat

Fats are critical in a marinade because they transfer fat-soluble flavours onto and into the meat. They also help to keep the moisture in the fibres of the meat, as well as keep the acidic flavours from dominating the dish. These fats can be oils, mayonnaise, yoghurts, and other types of fats.

  • Salt

Salt does the work of transferring water-soluble flavours into the fibres of the meat. Incredibly, it also changes the structure of the protein itself, allowing more moisture to fill in the gaps, creating a more tender and moist dish.

  • Enzymes

Enzymes act much in the same way as acidic ingredients, but mostly on the surface of the meat. They help to break down the proteins to create a tender, delicious meal.

  • Sugar

Sugars can help add depth of flavour to a dish but can also burn so be sure to be careful if you are cooking over a high heat open flame.

Tips for a Mouthwatering Marinated BBQ Dish

Kirsty from The Garden Living Company says: ”Now that you know how a marinade works, you can put one together and get to the BBQ. What do you need to know to create a mouthwatering BBQ dish?”

  • Choose the Right Flavours

Pair your meat with your desired flavours and make sure to add the essential ingredients (acid, spices, fat, etc.) so that you get a flavourful, tender dish.

  • Let it Sit 

If you are cooking seafood, 15-60 minutes is often enough time to impart all of the benefits of a marinade. For chicken, 2-4 hours will do, and for red meats, you can marinate for anywhere from 2 hours to 24 hours.

  • Cook to Perfection

After you are finished with the marinating process, cook your dish. Once cooked, enjoy your masterpiece and revel in the effectiveness of the mighty and powerful marinade.

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