Frying pans fill me with anxiety. It’s the habitat of stir frys gone bad, limp sautees, and other cooking-on-the-fly atricities. Omelettes and scrambled eggs that have left an scorched amber crud layer. Burnt garlic because the heat was on too high. Overcooked boneless chicken. The constant calculus of this veggie requires more cook time, but this one cooks fast, so you have time each vegetables debut into the pan, like the orchestrated entrance of the wedding party. Oh, I have to whip something up on the spot and make it taste good? No sir, I will mess that up.
But! Grilling is a different story. Grilling demands inaction. Let it sear, leave it alone, then flip it, and leave it alone again. This I can do. And all it requires is staring longingly at the flame and the sizzling meat, and then dabbing it with my finger every minute or so. To re-appropriate the words of Ron Swanson: Grilling relaxes me. It’s like yoga, except at the end I get to eat something.
And yet I’m still a bit of a lazy git, so let me introduce you to my three favorite marinades that are easy to whip up.
Tamarind Chicken (from Food52 blog)
This is a really tangy and vibrant marinade that was an instant hit with my hard-to-please husband. It’s also really easy, just needs a quick spin in the food processor.
I try to find recipes where I usually have 90% of the ingredients on hand because I either use them so frequently or because the ingredients stay good in the pantry or fridge. This is one of those recipes. Tamarind keeps well in the fridge forever, and I only have to pickup the chicken and lime during my weekly shopping trip. The rest of the ingredients are always on-hand.
Couple of recipe notes:
- Since my husband has been doing the keto diet, I’ve omitted the brown sugar; the marinade still tastes excellent, just a little more on the tart side.
- You can easily bake this recipe on a cookie sheet, if you don’t want to grill. I do 40 minutes at 425 degrees F.
- I suspect it would work well on pork chops as well.
The author did all the hard work of figuring out the recipe, but the blog post is a little long and hard to follow exactly what you’re supposed to do. So here’s my version of the recipe:
2 ounces of ancho chili powder
7 ounce can of adobo chipotle peppers
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
6 cloves of garlic or 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
Pulse in a food processor before marinating for 1 hour to 24 hours.
The next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some Nando’s Peri Peri sauce from the marinades/ketchup/condiments aisle. Yes, this is cheating. Peri Peri is a type of pepper that grows in southern Africa, and the Portuguese made a tangy marinade by crushing a bunch of the peppers with species and lemon juice. (Or maybe the Africans already had a recipe and the colonists stole it. Who knows?) It’s so delicious, and it’s difficult to replicate without the exact peri peri chilis, so just buckle down and buy a bottle of the stuff and modify as indicated here; you add olive oil, Dijon mustard, Worcestshire, and green onion, among other things.
FYI I’ve found Nando’s marinades at Walmart and Central Market.
So, do you have any fast and reliable marinades you like? Let me know in the comments!