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Marinate summer grilling dishes for extra flavor

Grilling is going strong in Tucson these days, especially after the direct rays of the sun disappear over the horizon in the late afternoon. Making a quick marinade for your meat dishes isn't difficult, and considering that you may have every intention to grill after sunset, your pork or chicken can repose in this marinade just about all day.

I find that pork chops have a tendency to be either tough or dry, or both if they are really badly cooked. Therefore, any way to keep them in better condition is a good idea; otherwise you might as well make a small pork roast and get a better dinner. I don't usually choose chicken breasts for grilling, either, or even for cooking although they are very trendy with the weight-loss set. I much prefer chicken thighs and they can't be beat if you want to go Middle Eastern and get your tagine out (I have one).

A member of the Cooking Club of America contributed this kind of universal marinade recipe to their recent magazine, Cooking Pleasures. Thanks to Tiffanie Dickenson for a real go-to item.

MARINADE MAGIC

From Tiffanie Dickenson

Cooking Club of America

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons organic soy sauce
2 Tablespoons organic white wine or rice vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed organic lime juice
1 teaspoon packed organic brown sugar or honey
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 boneless pork chops or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine everything in a mixing bowl or an airtight plastic bag. Mix thoroughly, seal either with cling film or by closing the bag and placing it in the mixing bowl to guard against dripping.

When you are ready to grill, you can use the marinade for basting. Dispose of the marinade when you are through cooking; don't ever re-use marinade.

If you would like to modify this recipe for beef, use red-wine vinegar in place of white, and go with the brown sugar. Add 1 teaspoon of dried tarragon and thyme, and change over to black pepper. Overall, you are opting here for slightly stronger flavors to stand up to the taste of the beef. This will work for tenderloins, t-bone steaks and any meat that can be grilled and remain tender.

Don't overcook any meat on a grill; the best meat in the world can be ruined by burning and overcooking.