5 Southern Marinades for the Grill


Regina Charboneau

The only item lacking this time of year to make it a perfect time of year is the first crop of Creole tomatoes—homegrown Creole tomatoes usually don't peak for another month or so. What compensates for the lack of tomatoes is the pleasant (90-degree) weather with the blooming flowers in my early summer garden and the smell of charcoal. Grilling season is a happy season for me. Everything seems a bit easier at dinnertime: paper plates, a few cold side dishes, a simple salad, and that one perfect item off the grill make for a casual dinner. If the tomatoes are not quite ripe enough, a little time on the grill will convert them from a little green to an appreciated smoked side dish. Luckily, grilling is the perfect solution for dinner for two—we have a lot of those during the summer. The boys prefer the Malt Shop to home for most of the summer, as I did growing up.

Although grilling is good for dinner for two, this is also a great time of year to entertain with little effort. I love to slice potatoes, boil them until done but firm, and serve them cold with a balsamic vinaigrette or caper mayonnaise, depending what you are grilling. You can also season them to compliment the marinade you choose. For example, if you are making a pepper marinade for steak or salmon, use basil and garlic in a little mayonnaise and sour cream to top the cold potatoes and assorted vegetables that have been blanched in hot water and then cooled. A creamy sauce would complement any of these marinades below. Crusty bread with a flavored butter or olive oil works for the starch with little to no effort.

Personally, I am over having everything on the plate be grilled. I think it detracts from the star attraction, the entrée. Grill the bread or one of the vegetables if you must, but I think it is better not to have the taste of the grill on the entire menu. I love sliced tomatoes, sliced cooked potatoes, chilled green beans, sliced boiled egg, and a nice simple sauce to add a touch of flavor. There is never anything wrong with assorted salamis, cheeses, olives, and some grapes. Keep it simple and light.

Here are some quick easy sauces to add a different flavor to your standard grilled meats or fish. This is what I mean by simple: five sauces and no more than five ingredients for any of them, and most of them can be made in about five minutes.

1. Black Pepper Marinade for Steaks or Salmon

• ¼ pound butter
    • ¼ cup olive oil
    • ¼ cup Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
    • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Put all of the ingredients into a sauce pan over low heat until the butter is melted.

2. Mango BBQ Sauce for Chicken Breast
    • 2 cups of your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce
    • 2 mangos—finely diced (or chopped in food processor)
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

Put all of the ingredients into a sauce pan over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.

3. Brown Sugar-Mustard Glaze for Pork Loin

    • ½ cup salad oil
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • ½ cup Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced

Put all of the ingredients into a sauce pan over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.

4. Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze for Pork Chops

• 1 cup hot pepper jelly
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • ¼ cup white vinegar

Place all of the ingredients into a sauce pan over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.

5. Orange-Green Peppercorn Glaze for Shrimp and Green Tomato Skewers

• ½ cup orange marmalade
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • ¼ cup cider vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons green peppercorns

Put all of the ingredients into sauce pan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves to a syrup stage.