~ A Basic Mexican Marinade for Beef, Pork or Poultry ~
As a fan of Mexican-Texican food, I find myself improvising occasionally. Not, of course, when I'm preparing one of their many classic dishes (like low and slow roasted pork carnitas or tacos al pastor) -- they require specific ingredients and a traditional method of cooking. Improvisation enters my food world when I'm preparing one of my flash-in-the pan meals (a meal where the protein gets quickly grilled, grill-panned, pan-seared or broiled). This all-purpose marinade, which contains many flavors basic to Mexican-Texican fare, is my secret to imparting that all-important extra-layer of flavor into into my meal -- without overpowering it or competing against it.
Simple, straightforward & scrumptiously to the point:
6 tablespoons white vinegar
6 tablespoons lime juice, fresh or high-quality organic lime juice not from concentrate
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons each: garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt and coarse-grind black pepper
1/2 cup minced cilantro leaves
*Note: Achiote oil, which is readily available everywhere, has annatto added to it, which is what gives it its signature pretty orange color, and, ever-so-slight hint of earthy, musty, peppery flavor. Annatto is the seed of the achiote tree, which is indigenous to Central and South America. The seeds are usually ground to a powder or steeped in oil prior to adding to all sorts of Spanish-style fare. If you don't do a lot of this type of cooking, don't buy it, or, if you don't want the orange color added to the dish you are serving, simply substitute vegetable oil without compromise.
~Step 1. In a small capacity food processor or blender, measure and place all ingredients as listed: vegetable oil, vinegar, lime juice and all of the dry spices. Mince and add the cilantro. Process or blend, until smooth and emulsified, about 15-20 seconds. Marinate beef, pork or poultry for 6-12-24 hours, and, fish or shellfish, 15-30 minutes, or as recipe directs.
Note: After marinating the protein, the leftover marinade may be transferred to a small 1-quart saucepan and gently simmered for 4-5 minutes to use as a very-flavorful sauce for dipping or drizzling over all sorts of steaks, pork chops, chicken breasts or thighs -- a little goes a long way. There's more. For a sweeter version of the marinade (or the simmered sauce), add 2 tablespoons honey to the mixture -- be aware that sweet marinades can and will burn or boil over quickly on the grill or stovetop, so be sure to watch carefully under either circumstance.
Marination (which does not affect the cooking time), is a flavorizer not a tenderizer.
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; small capacity food processor or blender, 1-cup measuring container; 1-quart saucepan (optional).
Cook's Note: When a recipe specifies a marinade, use it. It's been developed to enhance that specific dish. Example: My recipe for ~ Tequila-Lime Skirt-Steak Fajitas (Tacos al Carbon) ~. In this recipe, tequila and jalapeños get added to the marinade along with a generous amount of my homemade fajita seasoning blend.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)