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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Marinade before grilling to lock in flavor

Grilling season is almost here. Actually for some, it’s always grilling season. If you are like me, you are always looking for ways to increase the flavor in your food. I find the best way to do this is to marinate your proteins before they hit the grill.


Marinades have as many varieties as your mind can allow. The key component is the acid ingredient. Whether it’s vinegar, juice or wine, the acid helps break down the protein and allows the flavors to settle in the meat. Today I have assembled a few marinades that are very versatile. The first is great on chicken, beef, pork and seafood, Hawaiian Marinade. The second is great for lighter proteins, Chicken and Pork Chop Marinade. The last is a full recipe for beef, Grilled flank Steak with Coffee-Creole marinade. So to make the marinades, start the night before. Gather you ingredients, and Let’s head to the kitchen.


Hawaiian Marinade


Hawaiian steaks and chicken are found on many restaurant menus. The key is the use of this marinade. It’s a great balance of acid and sweet that transports your tastebuds to the Pacific islands.


1 46-ounce can pineapple juice

2/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup sugar

¾ cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons granulated garlic

2 teaspoons ground ginger


Mix all ingredients. Marinate meat for at least 12 hours, turning

every 2 hours.


Chicken and Pork Chop Marinade


Here is a great basic marinade. It is best used with lighter meats such as chicken and pork. I find that it does not stand up to the big flavor of beef.


3 cups vegetable oil

1 ½ quarts Chablis wine (sub grape juice for non alcoholic marinade)

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

3 cups onions, minced

2 tablespoons celery salt

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons black pepper

1 tablespoon tarragon leaves

3 tablespoon rosemary

2 tablespoon thyme

¼ cup garlic, chopped

¼ cup paprika

¼ cup Creole seasoning


Mix oil, water, granulated garlic, onion, celery salt, salt and pepper

thoroughly until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Cover meat with marinade. Marinate a minimum of 12 hours.


Grilled Flank Steak with Coffee-Creole Marinade


Here is a bold marinade that holds up well to the flavor of beef. The combination of the Creole mustard and espresso helps the steak explode with flavor. It’s a great way to infuse meat with New Orleans taste.


4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Creole mustard

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon instant espresso

1 1/2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

1 1/2 pounds flank steak

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped


In a small bowl, stir together garlic, mustard, vinegar, oil, espresso powder, and Creole seasoning. Place steak into a large shallow dish, and rub garlic mixture on all sides of beef. Top with shallots and parsley. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.


Spray grill or grill rack with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat grill to high heat (400 to 450℉). Grill meat 3 minutes per side for medium-rare or until desired doneness. Remove from heat, and let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.


As you can see, It’s best to marinate overnight. However, you can speed up the process. If you have a food saver, you can place the protein and marinate in a bag and vacuum seal it. The vacuum draws the marinate into the protein and infuses the flavors much quicker. I always find that you get better results overnight. So before your next grill, take some time to marinate the night before. You will be glad that you did.

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