I grew up in a house that loved a marinade. Whether it was bottled teriyaki sauce on chicken, or a bottle of Wishbone Italian salad dressing on kebabs, my family just loved to soak meat in something tasty before cooking.
As I got older and began to cook more, I started to lean away from marinades, recognizing that scientifically they usually only flavor the outside of the meat, and if they contain acid, can start to break down the meat and make it mushy. But every now and again I still crave the flavor of a marinated meat. And this is the one marinade that is always in rotation.
This marinade works with anything that has legs, from lamb to beef to pork to poultry. Even bison, venison, and turkey are pals with this flavorsome smush. The best part is that most of the ingredients are in your pantry. It all happens in a food processor or blender, and is so quick to pull together.
It also uses up a less-than-perfect lemon in excellent fashion. Even better? You can adjust it to your own taste. Don’t have a lemon but have an orange or a couple of limes hanging about? Swap ‘em in. Don’t love garlic, but prefer onion or shallot or ginger? Go for it. Want it spicier, add more red pepper.
It is a riff on an old Julia Child recipe for a lamb marinade that I have been playing with for years. And now it’s my gift to you.
Easy never tasted so awesome.
All Purpose Whole-Lemon Marinade
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
4 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves (or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
How to Make It
Step 1. Wash your lemon and remove the two ends just to reveal the flesh. Then chop into large chunks, skin and all. If you see any obvious seeds you can flick them out, but don’t worry too much about it.
Step 2. Drop into the bowl of your food processor or blender. Pulse until the lemon has become a thick paste.
Step 3. Add the rest of the ingredients. Pulse until you have a thick and chunky sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings, recognizing that it should be highly seasoned and deeply flavorful, since it is a marinade, not a sauce.
Step 4. Put whatever protein you are using into a ziptop bag and pour the marinade over, smooshing it around to cover. Marinate 30 minutes at room temp, or up to four hours in refrigerator, depending on thickness of meat. Bring meat to room temp in marinade before cooking.
Step 5. Remove the meat from the marinade, and if you intend to grill, wipe the excess off. If you are roasting, you do not need to take this step, and you can use the marinade to get bread crumbs to stick on the outside of your meat if you like. Discard leftover marinade after you remove the meat, and do not use as basting sauce.
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