Kick Up the Flavor

For many, sauces and marinades define the meat-eating experience. Here are some easy ways to spice up your favorite cuts!

Brining — Brine helps make leaner meats, like chicken or pork, moist and tender by breaking down proteins in muscle fiber. Simply combine 1/4 cup salt and 1/2 cup sugar in 1 quart cold water, boil to dissolve salt and sugar, then cool. Add meat and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours before cooking. Thicker cuts may take up to 8 hours.

Marinades — Marinating adds rich flavor to any cut of meat. Here is a simple one. Combine one bottle of Italian dressing and 1 clove chopped garlic (or lemon juice, to taste) in a large bowl. Place meat or poultry in a large resealable plastic bag and add marinade. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cooking.

Tenderizing Marinades — Less tender cuts should be marinated at least 6 hours, but no more than 24. To tenderize, the marinade must contain an acidic ingredient, such as lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt, or wine, or a natural tenderizing enzyme found in papaya, ginger, kiwi, pineapple, or figs.

Rubs — These are seasoning blends that add flavor to beef but do not tenderize. Dry rubs consist of herbs, spices and other dry seasonings. Paste-type rubs contain small amounts of wet ingredients, such as oil, crushed garlic or mustard. Apply just before cooking.

Sauces — Doctor up any bottled barbecue sauce by adding one or more of these ingredients to taste: honey, brown sugar, hot sauce, orange juice, mustard, soy sauce, chili sauce or garlic.

Hot Tips:

• Place dry rub in a container and dredge meat through it to easily cover all sides of the meat.
• If cooking whole chickens, put rub inside the body cavity for added flavor.
• Sauces high in sugar can burn before meat is fully cooked so it is best to wait until the last 5 or 10 minutes of grilling to brush them on.