When it comes to the grill, my personal workhorse is chicken, barring vegetarian or vegan preferences, I find it a great option and showcase for a lot of flavors. Making a good healthy marinade showcasing the flavors of the season is often easier than making a homemade burger although I enjoy making those as well. When it comes to seasoning your chicken, You do not necessarily need to restrict your options to chicken breasts although again, they work just fine, you can do well with chicken drumsticks, wings or even boneless skinless chicken thighs. Can you tell that I am a dark meat kind of girl? But seriously folks, when it comes to both roasting and grilling you really are doing much better with chicken thighs and legs, that will allow you to grill them until nice and smoky outside and soft and moist inside. My next technique is usually marinating versus just using a spice rub, and while marinating for 4 hours or longer might be good, you can get away with 2 hours of good marinating with a nice and well seasoned base.
I have suggested a handful (actually 15 to be precise) of recipe guidelines which should get you started happily on a mix and match journey. I have noticed my seasonings tend to be in three basic categories, the first is where I mesh some sweetness with the savory, the second is using a yogurt base, and the last variety is working with olive oil, garlic and seasonal herbs. The third group of marinades are also great for fish or vegetables.
Sweet and Savory
2.Chutney Spiced Marinade: Add one cup of your favorite chutney (such as the tomato or tamarind) with 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1/2 cup chopped mint or cilantro. Blend this to a smooth paste and use as a marinade for up to 2 pounds of chicken.
3.Apricot Sage Marinade: Add 3 tablespoons of apricot preserve, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 or 2 jalapenos to taste and 1/4 cup chopped oregano. Blend into a puree and use as a marinade for up to 2 pounds of chicken.
4. Maple-Red Pepper Marinade: Add 1/4 cup maple syrup, 11/2 tablespoons red pepper flakes, salt to taste and 1/3 cup olive oil. This for 2 pounds of chicken, would offer you a recipe similar to this shrimp recipe and yes, if you wish this will work well for tofu or shrimp.
5. Soy, Ginger and Brown Sugar: Blend 3 tablespoons grated ginger, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoons sesame oil and 1/3 cup olive oil to make a lovely marinade or basting sauce, if you do not have time to marinade the chicken.
With a yogurt base
Add yogurt to a base of spices is a very classic Indian way to cook meat. The yogurt is cooling and the enzymes act as tenderizer so, this base will yield a rich and well seasoned chicken.The following yogurt based marinades need to be mixed together in a blender and used as needed.
The most classic recipe using yogurt is the
7. Smokey Paprika Marinade: Use 1 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon ginger paste, 1 tablespoon garlic paste, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 2 tablespoons minced mint.
8. Smoked Tandoori Marinade with Rosemary, here is my recipe.
9. Garam Masala Marinade: Use 3/4 cup of Greek Yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger and 11/2 tablespoons of Garam Masala and 1 tablespoon sugar and salt to taste.
10. Mint and Cumin Marinade: Use 3/4 cup of plain yogurt, 1 cup mint leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon powdered cumin, 11/2 teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper and Salt to taste.
Olive Oil Based Marinades
When I am in a real hurry, I tend to throw together seasonal herbs, olive oil and pretty much whatever else I can find. Here are my favorites.
11. Garlic and Oregano: This Greek Inspired marinade combines, 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup chopped oregano and 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.
12. Ginger and Lemongrass: This is about a touch of Thailand, whisking in 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste, 2 tablespoons fish sauce,1 tablespoon brown sauce and about 3/4 cup of chopped Thai or regular basil. If you wish you can add in 2 tablespoons of Sriracha and 1/4 cup of coconut milk.
13. Mint and Black Pepper: Blend together 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup of mint chutney and 11/2 tablespoons black pepper and salt to taste.
14. Mock Tandoori: This dairy free version is great if you want the flavors of tandoori without the yogurt, here I add 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons Sriracha, 1 tablespoon ginger paste, 1 tablespoon powdered cumin and 1 tablespoon powdered coriander and salt to taste.
15. Herbs of Valhalla: This marinade is all about the profusion of summer herbs in our garden, blend together 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 Serrano Pepper, 2 cloves garlic and 2 cups of mixed herbs such as chives, cilantro, basil and mint.