Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cook With Style Tuesday – 5 Flavors Behind a Magnificent Marinade

Q. What’s the secret formula to making a fantastic marinade?

A. The easiest way to explain how to make a marinade that's full of flavorful style is to describe it music terms. Let use The Jackson 5 as an example. The members of this great family band, during the Motown years, featured Michael Jackson and his brothers Jermaine, Jackie, Marlon and Tito. Their varied musical talents complimented and contrasted each other to create incredible songs such as ABC! Sure Tito was easy to poke fun at as he got older, but he wasn’t just there to give Michael a tissue; he was there to ensure a balanced sound!

A good balanced marinade also requires 5 important attributes but they come in the form of flavors, where each one compliments and contrasts the other. Thankfully they are easy to remember as they all begin with the letter “S”…Sweet, Sour, Salty, Savory and Spicy. Most often they are not used in equal amounts, just as The Jackson 5 songs included lots of vocals by Michael supported by the music and back-up vocals of his brothers. So when making a marinade, try to pick one or two dominant flavors and then back them up with smaller amounts of the remaining ones. There is no magic formula and you don't always have to use them all, just adjust the amounts based on your preferences.

By the way this approach isn’t only for marinades. It can be applied to all kinds of different cooking applications. Next time you prepare a dish that tastes lackluster, don’t scrap it. Think of the stylish “S” flavor that might be missing. Add it in and there’s a good chance you can save the entire dish!

Here's a marinade you can try. This one shows off its “Savory” style as the other flavors play more of a supporting role. As Michael sings in "ABC" it's as easy as 1,2,3!

In a blender combine,

2 green onions, chopped (Savory)
2 cloves garlic, minced (Savory)
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (Savory)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (Spicy)
1 tsp paprika (Spicy-sweet)
2 tbsp brown sugar (Sweet)
2 tbsp lime juice (Sour)
½ tsp salt (Salty)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil (The oil is required to add body)

Blend until combined. Add to chicken or fish and let marinate for 4 to 6 hours. Cook on the grill.

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Brent Garell
The Kitchen Roadie

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