Marinades & Fired Foods

Desert Lil's Delicacies - A DUSA Food Feature

We'll create four tasty marinades, then light up the grill for some fantastic fired foods.

Grilling vs. Barbecuing

But first, don't be confused by the difference between Grilling and Barbecuing. Grilling is quick and hot while barbecuing is slow and low. Barbecuing usually involves large, tougher cuts of meat cooked in an enclosed space for hours in the hot smoke of a wood fire.

Barbecue sauce, whether based on ketchup, mustard or vinegar, is not intended to be more than the finishing touch. Some cooks use a "mopping sauce" to baste the meat while barbecuing, then add the "finishing sauce" during the last 30 minutes. Both can rightly be called barbecue sauces, but the store-bought, bottled variety is always a finishing sauce.

Marinades for Grilling

A marinade is a seasoned sauce used to flavor meat, fish, poultry and vegetables before cooking. Most are uncooked, but all include some acidic ingredient like vinegar, wine or citrus juice that will break down collagen in meats and thus tenderize them. Vegetable marinades usually include some form of oil -- olive, sesame, canola, melted butter, to help baste the food as it cooks. Numerous spices, and other ingredients comprise the wide variety of marinades available including beer, liquors, soy sauce,

Marinades have long been popular for meats because, in addition to creating fantastic flavors, the acids in these sauces act as tenderizers. Vegetables, too, can be greatly enhanced with marinades and sauces. They can be brushed on just before grilling, or marinated for 30 to 60 minutes before grilling. Since vegetables are not generally fibrous, they do not require tenderizing. Excessive soaking in a marinade can make them soggy or stringy.

Be certain that when mixing and marinating you use only glass or stainless steel containers and utensils. This will avoid the containers reacting to the acids in the marinades. The glaze on ceramic containers may contain lead which will contaminate food. A stainless steel wisp or fork is a good utensil to for mixing.


 Citrus Marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp shredded lemon peel
  • 2 tsp dry thyme
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

 Tandoori Marinade

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Teriyaki Marinade

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar

 Lil's Quick Marinade

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (balsamic)
  • 1/4 cup red wine or beer
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard

Fired Food Recipes

Salmon Taragon - serves 4

  • 2 lbs fresh salmon steaks or filets
  • 1 recipe Citrus Marinade (see above)
  • 1 Tbsp dry tarragon leaves
  • 1 lime, wedged

Soak wood chips in water (preferably mesquite). Preheat grill so that fired rocks are hot or coals are ready. Marinate salmon, covering completely for 15 minutes. Remove salmon from marinade, brush each side lightly with olive oil, sprinkle each side with tarragon until gone. Place pieces on flat piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil pierced with a few tiny holes. Fire on hot, open grill for 7-8 minutes, gently turn and cook another 7-8 minutes. Garnish with lime wedges and serve white wine.

Tandoori Chicken - serves 4

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or 8 small skinless thighs
  • 1 recipe Tandoori Marinade (see above)
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs

Halve breast pieces, then place in Tandoori Marinade, cover and refrigerate 4-5 hours. Soak wood chips in water (preferably apple). Preheat grill so that fired rocks are hot or coals are ready. Place marinated chicken pieces on hot grill and cook 12-15 minutes per side. Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati rice.

Teriyaki Steak Kebabs - serves 4

  • 2 lbs sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 16 small mushrooms
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 recipe Teriyaki Marinade (see above)
  • 8 wooden or bamboo skewers

Place steak cubes in half the marinade, cover and refrigerate 30-60 minutes. Soak wood or bamboo skewers in water. Preheat grill so that fired rocks are hot or coals are ready. Thread marinated meat and vegetables alternately onto two parallel skewers (to keep the pieces in place when kebabs are turned). Leaves a little space between items to allow for complete cooking. Dip or brush assembled kebabs with remaining marinade, then place on grill. Place a strip of aluminum foil under exposed ends of the skewer to prevent burning. Fire on open grill 4-5 minutes per side, then serve with garnishes.

Marinated, Grilled Veggies - serves 4

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • or 4 portabello mushrooms
  • or 4 medium zucchini squash
  • or a 2 lb medley of mixed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc.)
  • 1 recipe Lil's Quick Marinade

Soak wood chips in water (preferably mesquite). Preheat grill so that fired rocks are hot or coals are ready. Marinate vegetables 15 minutes in Lil's Quick Marinade. Wrap vegetables in heavy-duty aluminum foil pierced by a few tiny holes and fire on hot, open grill 10-15 minutes per side.

Eggplant: Halve lengthwise, make deep perpendicular cuts into flat side, spread and spoon marinade into cuts. Fire cut-side up first, 15 -17 minutes per side.

Portabello: Remove stems, place upside down and spoon marinade into gills of mushroom Fire upside down first, 10-12 minutes per side.

Zucchini: Halve lengthwise, make deep perpendicular cuts into flat side, spread and spoon marinade into cuts. Fire cut-side up first, 8-10 minutes per side.

Complete Index of Desert Lil's Delicacies




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