Homemade Rubs & Marinades
Rubs are blends of herbs, spices, salt, sugar, and other ingredients that are worked into meats before grilling to add additional flavor, color, and texture. They're classified as either dry or wet.
Dry rubs are combinations of herbs and spices that are either sprinkled
on or rubbed into the meat. Wet rubs (or pastes) feature the addition of
oil, molasses or another liquid ingredient to the herbs and spices; they're
rubbed into the meat and also used to coat the surface.
Wet rubs generally
adhere to the meat better than dry rubs and also help seal in juices to keep
meats moist. No matter which type of rub you use, the most important thing
to remember is that rubs are intended to enhance the flavor of the meat,
not overpower it.
Here are some tips
for using rubs in
• Rubs should be worked into meats completely. For poultry, this means
getting the rub under the skin.
• Apply rubs well in advance, and let the rub-coated meats absorb the
flavors for at least an hour before placing them on the grill. For larger cuts
of meat, such as roasts, or for whole chickens or turkeys, allow several hours
(overnight is even better!) for the flavors to blend with the meat's juices.
(Reminder: keep meat refrigerated until ready to grill.)
• When concocting your own rubs, be sure to make only what you'll use
over the course of a couple of months, to ensure peak flavor and freshness.
• Combine ingredients a little at a time. You can always add more, but
you can rarely fix a recipe in which too much of an herb or spice has been
Try Rub it In! grilling rub for meats and poultry or robust vegetables.
Add a little pizazz to your grilled fare with this snappy homemade Lemon-Rosemary Rub.
- Marinades, a mix of ingredients that creates a soaking solution for meat,
poultry and vegetables, are yet another popular way to enhance the flavor
of grilled foods. Some marinades can also double as tenderizers for less
expensive cuts of meat. There are three basic types of marinades: acidic
(made with citrus, vinegar, or wine), enzymatic (made with pineapple, papaya,
ginger, kiwi or other foods that contain a certain type of protein enzyme),
and dairy (made with buttermilk or yogurt).
- Choose your marinades carefully, as their chemical reaction with the
meat protein can impact meat texture. Acidic marinades can sometimes toughen
foods, while enzymatic marinades can break down the surface proteins so
effectively that the meat actually becomes mushy. To prepare an acidic
marinade that won't result in toughness, start with one part juice, vinegar
or wine, and four parts oil. When using enzymatic marinades, avoid marinating
for long periods of time. And if it's tenderizing you're after, use a dairy-based
marinade. The calcium activates enzymes in the meat that help break down
proteins and make the meat more tender.
- Be creative with your marinades! Add herbs and spices, vegetables, fruits,
Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, or whatever mixture sounds appealing.
Marinating times should be based on the type of food you're preparing --
fish fillets need to marinate only for a few minutes, while chicken, lamb
and other meats can soak for several hours.
This citrusy Lemon Marinade is great for getting vegetables, tofu, chicken or fish ready for the grill.
Part of what makes grilling so appealing is the delicious, sultry, smoky flavor it imparts in the food. Many enthusiasts use wood chips to enhance and control this flavor.
Wood chips must be pre-soaked in water for about an hour before being
added to the grill. They can then either be placed in a smoker box inside
your grill or tossed directly onto hot coals. (Wood chips can also be
used in gas grills, but you should refer to your user's manual for instructions.)
Start with about 1/4 cup of wood chips, and work up from there to achieve
results that match your personal tastes and preferences. Here are some
guidelines to get you started -- but be adventurous and experiment with
other woods as well:
Alder: light-flavored smoke that complements salmon, fish,
Almond: nutty, sweet flavor that goes well with all meats
Hickory: strong flavor, good with beef and lamb
Maple: sweet flavor, a great choice for poultry and ham
Mesquite: strong smoky flavor, good with most meats
Oak: especially good with beef or lamb
Any of your favorite sauces or glazes can be applied to foods on the grill. Be sure to apply these only during the last 10 minutes of grill time, as the sugar and fat in sauces and glazes can cause flare-ups and burned food. Try Sassy Sauce, a spiced-up version of traditional barbecue sauce for meat, poultry, tofu or tempeh:
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» Grilling Meats, Vegetables & Fruit
» Seasoning Grilled Food
» Homemade Rubs & Marinades
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