According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, marinade is defined as an acidic sauce with a savory flavor in which a chef soaks meat, fish, or vegetables. Marinades are used to tenderize meats and enhance flavors.
To marinade chicken for the grill can be an enriching flavor enhancer. Using the porous texture of your chosen bird, a variety of prepared marinade concoctions can be applied delighting each specific palette.
Choose the amount of chicken breasts, legs, wings and thighs you think who you are serving will enjoy. Sometimes, just breasts or legs are a nice choice especially if it is complementing or adjoining another main dish.
- To Skin or Not to Skin – There are two schools of thought here. Some feel if you leave the skin on the chicken it will absorb the marinade just as well as if skinned. Others do not. You can experiment with what works best but if you leave the skin on you may want to marinade it longer by about an hour or two.
- Marinade Time – The longer you marinade the more flavors it will take on. Also, keep in mind that it will also compromise the strength of the meat. So, a long marinade may result in being able to literally ‘suck the meat off the bone’. Two to four hours marinade time is recommended.
- Container – Using a covered glass bowl is an optimal marinating container. Plastic is not always the best choice as the acids in the marinade can possibly breakdown the synthetic material and leech it into your food. Some people like to use a plastic bag like a Ziploc however the same plastic risk may occur. Keep your marinating chicken refrigerated.
- Grill Time – This depends entirely on how you or others like their meat of course. The biggest pitfall however would be to overcook and dry out the chicken you worked so hard on marinating. Therefore if you put the marinated chicken directly on the grill watch it carefully. Look for seared browned strips along the meat and occasionally, slightly poke and pull apart to make sure all pink interior is gone. Some people suggest putting each chicken part on tin foil, folded up around the edges and continually pour and baste the leftover marinade over the meat. Remember, it does not take too long. It could be only five or ten minutes and the food is done.
Spicy, sour, savory and sweet can all be used as marinades, alone or combined. Below are a few formulas that may be worth trying out.
Lemon and Honey Marinade
This is another decadent favorite guaranteed to give you a sweet and delectable chicken. Start with 3 tablespoons of honey, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1/2 cup plus 2tbsp of olive oil. Mix the ingredients and then add additional seasonings – like minced garlic, cumin, dried oregano, and pepper – to taste. This marinade works very well with chicken breasts and goes great whether the skin is on or off.
Simple Soy Sesame
- ¼ to ½ cup of soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 dashes of kosher salt
- Fresh black pepper
- 1 table spoon Lemon juice
Raspberry and Strawberry
This is a sweet marinade made up of raspberry salad dressing, white wine, strawberry juice, lemon juice and orange juice. The raspberry salad dressing is the base adn you’ll add the white wine and other ingredients to your taste.
Nothing is better than your favorite barbeque sauce marinated into the chicken and basted as you grill. You can use store bought sauce or create your own.Don’t be afraid to experiment with marinades for your chicken. You can easily make up your own with a myriad of ingredients – most of which you probably already have in the kitchen. Enjoy!
Using a Grill Board
As seen in the pictures above, you can also use a grill board (alternately known as a grill blank) to gently smoke the chicken. In the pictures accompanying the article, we used a cherry grill board, which gave the chicken a sweet smokey flavor. It takes a little longer to cook, which lets the chicken brown nicely on top, and fills the air with the sweet smell of smoked cherry.
About the Author: Matt is a certified ultrasound technician by day and an amateur chef by night. He enjoys whipping up new recipes for his family and friends to enjoy.