The Only Marinade You’ll Ever Need

marinade, Arthur Schwartz, the three tomatoes

Steven Raichlen’s book, Barbecue! Bible Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and Glazes, is a sequel to his comprehensive Barbecue Bible. Among the press materials was the following recipe from the book. I’m sharing it here because I couldn’t agree more with Steve that “If I could use only one marinade for the rest of my life, it would be this one. Redolent with garlic, piquant with fresh lemon juice, and fragrant with extra virgin olive oil, it instantly transports you to the Mediterranean. I can’t think of a single food that doesn’t taste better bathed in it. You can use it as both a marinade and a basting sauce. If marinating poultry, meat, or seafood, simply set a portion aside for basting.”

Indeed, I must have repeated formulas similar to this one a gazillion times on the radio. Let me add, however, that you can eliminate one of the peppers – you don’t have to use red and black – and that you can add to Steve’s list of herbs, rosemary, sage, thyme, and bay leaf. Be careful how you mix herbs, though. Cilantro and oregano are a mean blend, for instance. Personally, I prefer a single herb, with parsley, as Steve indicates. You might also consider using wine vinegar instead of lemon juice, and orange zest instead of lemon.

The Only Marinade You’ll Ever Need

Makes 1 cup

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea), or to taste
  • 4 strips of lemon zest
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a cleaver or minced
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil, cilantro, dill, oregano or a mix of all four
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine the lemon juice, hot pepper flakes, cracked pepper, and salt in a nonreactive (glass, ceramic, or stainless steel) bowl and whisk until the salt crystals are dissolved.

Add the lemon zest, garlic, parsley, and basil. Stir or whisk in the olive oil. The virtue of this marinade is its freshness; use it within 1 to 2 hours of making. Stir again before using.

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