Fresh herbs--the joys of the entire growing season!
I hope you have lots of these peeking up at you--whether the marvelous, woody perennials or the newly planted annuals--they are all up and growing wherever you are in any zone now. (And, if not, it's not too late to plant them!)
It's also time to use these fresh herbs daily and what better way to include them but in Herbal Marinades.
Marinading and grilling are made for each other--
- Acidic based marinades have food safety properties, of course!
- The oils and acid in marinades help infuse your meats (and veggies!) with herbal essential oils and flavors
- Marinades may help tenderize tougher cuts of meat and hold in the juices and favorable fats of lean meats.
- There's evidence that acid-based marinades may even mitigate the potential harmful effects of direct charcoal grilling on meats if you choose to direct grill... not a bad idea then!
And, if you have a mini-food processor and a basic recipe plan, there is no end to your personal creativity with this culinary "art" medium. Every culture has its own marinades and you can "fuse" concepts and make an original multicultural style.
My basic plan for Marinades using Fresh Herbs is to select:
Approximately 2 parts olive oil, to 1-2 parts acid-based liquid, a bit of salt, and several handfuls of fresh herbs, adding extra spices to your personal plan. Put the whole batch into a mini-food processor, pulse several times and then you have your herbal based marinade. Always marinade food in the refrigerator and don't add any tenderizers beyond simple fresh ingredients, also don't over-salt. ALWAYS marinade food in a non-reactive pan such as glass, Pyrex, stainless steel.
Oil--I usually choose olive oil, though you can use canola oil, or even combine canola and sesame if doing Asian inspired marinade.
Acid based list: Wine, any citrus juice (orange, lemon, lime), vinegars, Yogurt and kefir (yes, these are acidic!) , mustard or other spices that are processed into acids, usually vinegar. You can mix within the list, too.
Herbs: Almost every fresh herb will work alone or in combinations to create a great marinade. Don't forget everyone's favorites: garlic, onions, shallots.
Spices and Zests: likewise, this list is endless from dried pepper blends to exotic spice blends. Added or not to your herbs.
In the final picture below, I've made a marinade for a 3.5 lb boneless leg of lamb which I plan to indirect grill. Marinade is a great idea for this lean cut of meat.
I have used 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, about 1/2 tsp.salt, a couple large cloves of garlic, and a couple handfuls of fresh herbs: sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano and even a little mint (I rinsed and stripped the leaves only from the stems.) Pulse several times in the mini food processor, pour over the entire lamb and refrigerate.
I let this marinade overnight--and then will indrect grill for Sunday dinner.
With a fresh tomato, greens and feta salad, some quinoa and lentils--sounds good to me!