Marinades provide unique flavors for grilling season
Father’s Day has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop appreciating the type of cooking that’s usually considered “dad” territory. Yes, grilling season is in full swing, and Los Angeles’ unique cultural diversity affords Angelenos a variety of options that go beyond the typical hot dogs, burgers, ribs and steaks (though no one’s going to complain about those, either).
The types of meats used in different cultures are, for the most part, similar to what one would normally expect, but the difference lies in the cuts of meat, as well as the different spices and ingredients used in marinades. Here are a couple easy-to-follow recipes to insert some unique and delicious variety in your barbecue offerings this summer.
Pollo a la Brasa
This recipe for the iconic Peruvian chicken dish is easy to prepare with ingredients that are at any local grocer — or already on your pantry shelf. The marinade gets its denaturing acidity from lime juice and a healthy dose of the Japanese flavor phenomenon umami from the soy sauce. Paprika helps accentuate the smoky flavors you’ll be getting from the charcoal, and the cumin and garlic add a fragrant, savory touch.
As with any barbecue, real estate on the grill can be hard to come by. And though this dish is wonderful when cooked over coals, it also lends itself well to being cooked in the oven, freeing up room for other meats while bringing another protein-packed dish to the table.
1 whole chicken, skin-on and cut into quarters (two leg-and-thigh pieces, two breast pieces)
1 lime, juiced.
½ cup soy sauce
1 ½ teaspoon paprika
2 ½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 or 7 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced lengthways or minced.
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Combine every ingredient except the chicken in a blender and pulse briefly until combined.
2. Place chicken in large, sealable plastic bag(s) and pour in marinade. While being careful not to spill the marinade, press out any residual “air pockets” prior to completely sealing the bags.
3. Marinate, chilled, for at least 16-24 hours.
4. When it’s time to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade and pat the chicken dry — notably, the skin — with a paper towel. This will help you achieve a nice, crunchy crackling.
If cooking on the grill:
1. Oil the grill grate liberally and arrange coals in a centralized “heap.” This ensures that there are lower temperature areas on the grill where the chicken can cook thoroughly without fear of overcooking.
2. Lay the chicken skin-side down on the “direct” heating areas of the grill and cook for about 3 minutes to get a nice sear on the skin.
3. Immediately flip and move the seared pieces to the “indirect” part of the grill and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through and juices run clear. Note that cooking times may vary based on the heat in the grill and the size of the chicken pieces.
If cooking in the kitchen:
1. Preheat oven to roast setting at 400 degrees, with the roasting pan inside.
2. Take a wide saucepan and drizzle some olive oil in the pan. Lay the marinated pieces of chicken on the cold, oiled pan skin-side down.
3. Put the saucepan on medium-low to medium heat for 15 minutes and cook only with the skin side down. Check to make sure the skin is not sticking to the pan.
4. Flip the chicken over and transfer it to the roasting pan along with a cup of water, and cook in the oven for 25 more minutes, or until finished and juices run clear. Note that ovens and cooking times may vary.
Korean Galbi Marinade
Though traditionally made with a very specifically cut and prepared short rib known as wang-galbi, the flavor the Korean galbi marinade imparts to any well-marbled cut of beef (or even chicken thighs and pork belly) is the true secret behind those fantastic flavors in some of Koreatown’s finer barbecue establishments.
This recipe calls for an Asian pear, a spherical, light amber-colored pear that can be hard to find and expensive out of season. It can generally be found at the Korean grocer year round or at your local Whole Foods Market — its unique, understated sweetness is integral to the dish. A bosc pear also works, but the Asian pear is preferred. As for meat, feel free to use a pound of any tender, well-marbled cut of beef for this marinade (and adjust proportions accordingly for bigger portions) — and be sure to cook it over lump charcoal for optimal flavor.
1 Asian pear, peeled and cored.
1 ½ tablespoon of Korean rice wine. Sake can also be used.
½ cup of soy sauce
½ cup of brown sugar
1 green onion, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped.
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup of sesame oil
1. Wash the meat out with cold water and pat dry. This will assist the meat in taking on the flavor of the marinade.
2. Score the meat with very shallow, opposing diagonal cuts running throughout the flat surface of the meat. It should create a diamond-shaped pattern.
2. Puree the pear and the Korean rice wine or sake until it reaches a consistency resembling apple sauce. Gently massage this mixture into the meat, and let the meat pre-marinate in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.
3. Combine the remaining marinade ingredients and incorporate the sugar by either blending or whisking quickly.
4. Remove the meat from the refrigerator and gently massage the marinade into the meat. Do NOT steep the meat in the marinade — the steak will be ruined, parties will be canceled and there will be weeping, moaning and gnashing of teeth. Make sure all of the meat is covered in the marinade. Marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for at least six hours for traditional short ribs, and overnight to 24 hours for thicker cuts.
5. When cooking the meat, be sure to shake off excess marinade before applying the meat to the grill. Cook to desired doneness.
Now all this meat wouldn’t be half as good without a cold beverage to wash everything down. In the spirit of this year’s World Cup in Brazil, the nation’s iconic cocktail the caipirinha has enjoyed a revival this summer. The primary ingredient for the caipirinha is cachaça, a liquor distilled from sugarcane juice. Cachaça is available at any BevMo and most supermarkets nationwide. This recipe is adapted from Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian barbecue restaurant in Beverly Hills.
½ cup cachaça
2 tbsp. coarsely granulated sugar
Splash of sprite
1. Slice the lime into wedges and muddle them into the bottom of the glass.
2. Add ice and pour in cachaça, and add a splash of Sprite.
3. Enjoy responsibly.
Entertaining for the summer doesn’t necessarily have to mean the same things served at a barbecue over and over; a little extra effort shopping goes a long way in ensuring that the guests (and dad) leave the table full and happy.