Marinating For Memorial Day

Alida Ryder, or as she’s (almost) universally known – The Queen Of Marinades – with some excellent tips on how to get the most flavor out of your Memorial Day Barbecue.
Text And Photo By Alida Ryder

Sticky Ribs

In South Africa, we are experiencing intensely icy temperatures at the moment so the thought of the lucky Americans celebrating Memorial Day with possibly perfect weather depresses me slightly. But I will be living vicariously through all of you and that’s why I decided to share my marinating ideas and recipes with you.

Everyone I know, has a Barbecue Hero. Mine, is my dad. No one can grill a pork chop/lamb chop/chicken like my dad. The only thing I can critique him on, is his steak. But that’s because I like my steak still moo-ing on my plate! He also makes the perfect accompaniments. Braai Broodjies (cheese, tomato & onion on bread, toasted on the barbecue) and  Pap & sous (Maize meal pap with tomato & onion sauce) are just two of his bests.

And since we have a gas barbecue, I myself have been getting more and more familiar with the whole barbecuing process. And I’m getting quite good at it. Now I know there will always be a debate about gas barbecuing vs the traditional pyramid stacking, cole barbecuing , but for me, it doesn’t really matter. Maybe because I’m not the one doing the actual grilling, most of the time. I just love the smokey smell of the meat charring and the fact that no matter what’s going on in your life, for the time that you are sitting outside and enjoying the Summer positivity, nothing else matters.

I am the Queen of Marinating (well self-proclaimed anyway!). I absolutely LOVE marinating things. Anything! Butterflied Chicken is probably my favourite but I love marinating everything from vegetables to pork chops. The complexity ranges from simple olive oil and lemon juice to 10 ingredient marinades.

Now for me, the secret to a good marinade is making sure there is some form of acid in there. I love using lemon juice for my marinades. Then, as you’ve probably heard a million times already, it’s also important to remember that you shouldn’t season your meat before braai-ing. This results in the moisture being drawn from meat which results in tough, dry meat. No one likes tough, dry meat! So I’ve heard, if you are planning on leaving the meat in the marinade for more than 2 hours, you shouldn’t season the marinade. Although, quite honestly I always season the marinade but I’m no purist so please don’t throw me with tomatoes for seasoning my meat, pre-barbecue!

A few more tips on marinating :

  • Never use Aluminum pans/dishes for marinating, the acid in the marinade might react to the aluminum. Glass, plastic and ceramic dishes are all good for marinating.
  • Never re-use the marinade.
  • Always refrigerate the marinated meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Always make sure the meat is completely defrosted and preferably at room temperature before you start barbecuing.

For ribs, in my opinion, only one recipe is necessary, and it’s this one! This recipe yields enough marinade to cover about 2kg of ribs. I use smoked pork spare ribs from my local butcher. Make friends with yours! I promise you’ll be happy you did!

2 cups tomato ketchup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup  Lemon juice
2 red chillies, finely chopped

  • Combine all the ingredients and whisk well. Pour over the ribs and allow to marinade for at least 30 mins and up to 3/4 hours before braai-ing / barbecuing. You could also stick these in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes.

Chicken Marinades:

I think that chicken should ALWAYS be marinated. And the possibilities for doing this, are endless. Moroccan, Italian, Greek, Indian…anything goes. Some days I want the serious flavour and spice of the Moroccan and Indian marinades and other days, something as simple as garlic, lemon and olive oil is perfect. That’s what’s so wonderful about Chicken! I think most people know this, but if you start your chicken off in the oven or microwave and cook it 3/4, it’s much easier to braai it as you don’t have to worry about cooking it all the way, you just have to worry about it getting that delicious crisp, almost burnt skin that everyone loves!

The method for all these marinades are the same, combine the ingredients, pour over a butterflied chicken and marinade for at least 30 minutes (or up to 1 day) before braai-ing.

Greek:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2tbsn fresh oregano chopped (or 1 tbsn dried oregano)
1tbsn fresh mint, finely chopped (or 1tsp dried)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1tsp salt
Black pepper to taste

Indian:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2tsp crushed ginger
2tbsn garam masala
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin
2 cardamom pods, crushed

French Provencal:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 sticks fresh thyme (or 1tbsn dried)
2tsp Dijon mustard
3  garlic cloves, crushed

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