Does Your Grilling Marinade Have These 3 Elements?

A grilling marinade is a very simple way to add flavor and moisture to grilled items. If you follow these basic rules, you’ll be able to create a long list of unique combinations of ingredients and invent your own grilling marinade.

Any grilling marinade will be made of three basic ingredients; Oils, Acids, and Seasonings. These three categories are the beginning of a grilling recipe that you create. Oils will not penetrate meat, they’ll simply coat the surface. This is why I usually don’t include oil in my grilling marinades unless I choose a highly flavored oil like walnut or sesame oil. However, many of the most flavorful oils have lower temperature “smoke points”, not the best choice for the grill, so I omit oil altogether.

Acids and seasonings will dictate the flavor of your grilling marinade. Acids are used because of their ability to tenderize items. This is largely overstated, though. Acids have a SLIGHT tenderizing effect, but not enough to make a big difference in your grilling marinade. The acids most effective at tenderizing tough cuts of meat are from tropical fruits like mango and papaya, but most often tomato products, vinegar, wine, or soy sauce are used.

Choosing the right cut of meat to marinate is the most important step. A cup of ketchup in a marinade will not make a tough cut of meat magically tender. Don’t expect your grilling marinade to turn tough beef into filet mignon, it won’t happen. Acids will break down connective tissues, but it’s the intense direct heat of the barbeque grill that will toughen and dry meats quickly. That’s why it’s important to choose a tender cut of meat to grill, because the cooking method of grilling won’t tenderize your item, regardless of which grilling marinade you choose.

The general rules of marinating are easy:

1) Longer = Stronger. The longer you marinate something, the stronger the flavor

2) Thicker = Longer. The thicker the product, the longer you’ll need to marinate it.

3) Tender = Shorter. A tender product will not need to be marinated as long.

4) Cooler = Cooler. ALWAYS marinate under refrigeration to keep bacteria growth down.

5) Acid resistant container = No Brainer. ALWAYS marinate in plastic or glass, never in copper or reactive metals.

A grilling marinade is perfectly matched for a dry cooking process like grilling. The marinade will add flavor and moisture for the quick, intense heat of the barbeque grill. You can create your own complex flavors of oils, acids and seasonings and invent the latest grilling marinade. A Grilling Rub is also considered a marinade, but made of dry instead of wet ingredients. How do you feel about adding oil to a marinade? For it or against it? Leave your comment below.

Grilling Rub Adds Flavor for Even the Worst Cooks!

Creating your own grilling rub is a great way to add unique flavor to meals, regardless of the cooking method you choose, or your cooking skill level. Healthy cooking recipes call for less fats and salts. Many commercially available seasoning mixes for the grill contain a large proportion of salt. Salt is inexpensive and heavy. It’s easy for a manufacturer to weigh-down and thin-out a pre-made grill seasoning mix with salt.

Why pay someone else to mix your spices for you? A few simple combinations of dry seasonings can have you creating your own grilling rub without the addition of salt and fillers.

Start by reviewing your spice rack and arranging spices into “ethnicities”. Simply smell each spice and think what it reminds you of. For example, oregano and basil will certainly remind you of Italian food or tomato sauce. You can create an Italian grilling rub with garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and basil.

You can now create an endless number of unique dry seasoning combinations. Curry powder, turmeric, celery seed and onion powder will remind you of Indian food, and can add this particular flavor profile to your seasoned ingredient. Cumin, coriander, thyme, and chipotle pepper will combine for a Mexican or Latin-American flavor.

Always apply your grilling rub to a DRY product. Your steak or chicken breast should be totally dry before applying the seasoning. Let the item rest at least an hour to allow the seasoning to penetrate the meat.

The real advantage of this type of seasoning is that the cooking method doesn’t really matter. Once you’ve created your favorite dry seasoning mix, you can apply it to something sautéed, grilled, roasted, or even braised!

You can add great flavors to any healthy cooking recipe with a grilling rub. It will give you pronounced flavor without having to add fats and salts to your diet. Do you have a combination of dry seasonings that always produces amazing results? If it’s not a generational family secret, please share it with a comment below:

Michael Pollan on Oprah: “Learn To Cook”


Michael Pollan is the author of four best selling books that examine our culture of food in the United States. He's my hero. He's been able to identify the growing problems with our industrial food system, but more importantly, masterfully communicate these ideas to everyone that's not a food scientist. And he says "learn to cook and YOU hold the power over food".

Michael Pollan was on Oprah in January of this year. I'm generally not able to watch Oprah during the day, but when I saw the author of "In Defense of Food", "Omnivores Dilema", and "Food Rules" on the flat-screen at the gym, I stopped my workout and watched. During the first segment that wasn't included in the edited video, Mr. Pollan shares a list of the food rules from his latest book. They seem less like rules and more like wise adages of shockingly common sense. But, he ends the first segment with serious advice, "learning to cook is one of the most important skills to have because then YOU have the power over what food you choose and who cooks it. Corporations are terrible at making food", says Pollan. Corporate packaged foods can contain compounds to increase shelf life, retain color, and improve profits.

There are simple rules or guidelines that you can use to change our entire food system. "Vote with your fork", Michael says, "you get three votes a day. Where else do you get three votes each day?" He's referring to the financial motivation of all food companies. If you don't buy it, they'll stop making it.

Some examples of his simple rules:

1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.

2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.

3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store.  Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.

4. Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. "There are exceptions — honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food," Pollan says.

5. Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.

Michael's new book is called "Food Rules", and outlines 64 adages to keep good eating in your consciousness.

#11 Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

#19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.

#36 Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.

#39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

#47 Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.

#58 Do all your eating at a table.

Seeing Michael Pollan on Oprah boosted my resolve in bringing basic cooking methods to the world. You'll improve your health and nutrition, reunite your family over dinner, entertain and be more social, eat a wider variety of foods, and enjoy a life-long skill when you learn to cook, as Michael Pollan advises.

Corn on the Cob: – How to Cook it Right

Cook corn on the cob and you’ve got a uniquely summer time treat. Fresh corn from the field brushed with melted butter is a strong child-food memory for me, and can be one for your children as well. If you’re lucky enough to get some fresh corn on the cob, how to cook it will be the difference between sweet success and starchy mess.

Don’t ever refrigerate corn on the cob. Under cold temperatures, sugar in the corn will turn to starches, robbing you of the sweet flavor of fresh corn on the cob. You may think that your corn is still fresh because it’s only been in the refrigerator for 24 hours, but this is enough time to make a cob from the field taste two weeks old.

Steaming is always better than boiling. If you submerge corn on the cob into a big pot of boiling water, you’ll have water that tastes like corn and corn that tastes like water. Rather than direct contact with the hot liquid where your fresh corn on the cob can lose flavor, add only a small amount of liquid to your stock pot. With a steamer basket or round wire rack, be sure the corn is suspended ABOVE the simmering liquid. To assure the steam cooks evenly, I often stand the ears of corn on end.

Your steamed corn on the cob is finished when it squirts. After a few minutes in the steam bath, I check for doneness by trying to burst one of the kernels on the corn. If the outer skin on the kernel is soft enough, and the inside cooked properly, it will burst with slight pressure from a finger.

This is my favorite way to approach corn on the cob and know how to cook it right. While this is not the only way, I feel it’s easier than cooking the corn while still in the husks, or wasting a whole bunch of tin foil wrapping each ear. If you want to cook corn on the cob and retain all the flavor and nutrients, a steaming method is the way to cook it right. Do you cook your corn with the husks still on? Do you prefer to clean and steam the corn like me? Let’s see which way is more popular by leaving a comment below: