Category Archives: Marinade

Chicken Marinade

For many years, Marlys was the grill master in our house; I had a long commute to work and home, and was also going to school several evenings each week. So Marlys had to be fairly independent. She learned to light and cook on the Weber Grill, and her favorite was chicken thighs and breasts, marinated in this marinade. It is a good recipe since it does not require refrigeration, can be made early in the day and be ignored until time to grill the chicken. And she used the recipe also as a basting sauce. (As with all marinades that have been used on raw meat, you do not use them on the table with the cooked meat; they need to be cooked, too).

Marination doesn’t give many opportunities to show interesting pictures. This first photo shows the ingredients in the marinade.

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Chicken Marinade

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, mashed

Makes enough for 1 whole chicken. Marinate at room temperature all day or over night. Grill chicken on indirect heat on a Weber outdoor grill about 1 hour, turning once. Baste every 15 minutes.

Marlys used a freezer bag to hold the meat and the marinade. Push the excess air out as you seal the baggie, and then you will not need to turn the bag as often as the marinade will fill the remaining space.

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When I published the recipe for Basil Chicken Marinade, I commented that marination really had a slight cooking action. I decided to demonstrate some of that action by showing you a before and after set of photos of a chicken breast that I was marinating. Notice the darker color and somewhat tightening of the flesh after marinating.

chicken marinade 009

This is good for pork also; either marinated or just brushed while grilling.

Basil Chicken Marinade

We marinate meat for two reasons; the marinade enhances the flavor of the meat, but more importantly, the marinade tenderizes the meat. This simple marinade does a great job on chicken breasts.

Basil Chicken Marinade

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped basil leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic chopped

Mix together, and place in a gallon freezer bag with chicken breasts. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Marinades work best on flat pieces of meat; slabs of meat that are the same thickness across the entire piece. This is so the penetration is even across the entire piece of meat. So, before we actually worry about the recipe for the marinade, we need to take action to flatten the chicken breast to be more even in thickness.
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The easiest way to flatten the chicken breast is to hammer it with the bottom of a heavy pot. To keep from making a mess, use either a plastic storage bag (open so the air doesn’t cushion the blow of the hammer) or a couple pieces of plastic wrap- one under and one over the chicken breast. Now that the breast is captured between two layers of plastic, bring the heavy pan’s bottom down hard on the breast. It takes a good amount of smashing to get the results where the high spots are reduced to the same level as the edges of the breast.

Now that the breast is flattened, slip it into a plastic storage bag and add the ingredients of the marinade. I find one fault with the ingredient list; it sounds like there is enough volume to do several breasts at a time. My experience was that I feel that the ingredients as listed would do a single chicken breast- about 8 ounces of chicken breast. And, I felt that I could do the single piece of meat in a quart freezer bag instead of the larger gallon size. I would double the recipe if I were doing more that a single breast or a gallon freezer bag.
Basil Chicken Marinade 001

Because the tenderizing process is really a “cooking” process, I would limit the time I left the meat to marinate to not more than about 10 hours; certainly not over night. The acid (vinegar) in the marinate is acting on the meat just as when we make ceviche- the sea food “cooked” in lime juice. Too long of a marination will leave the surface of the meat mushy and the interior of the meat dry. Marinating draws moisture out of the meat. It is important to turn the freezer bag a few times so that all of the meat comes into contact with the marinade, and not just one surface.

That last paragraph makes marinating sound like a difficult task; it isn’t. That paragraph is mostly about the end cases of what is happening, and why the time period of marinating is important. It isn’t something to start and forget.
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I think marinating makes a difference. One way to test that and form your own opinion would be to cut the chicken breast in half, and only marinate half. Then, after marinating one half, cook both halves and make a taste test. Hopefully, you will see the difference I did, and enjoy the enhanced flavor the marinade gives to the meat.