1.What marinades do
Depending on what marinades are made of, they can be used both to add flavour to the outside of the chicken and to tenderise it. If a marinade includes sugar or salt it will tenderise the chicken a little, but if there is an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar, buttermilk or yogurt, then the marinade will transform the texture of the outside of the chicken over time.
The longer you leave an acidic marinade to work on the chicken, the worse the surface texture will get, becoming more stringy and dry, so don’t leave chicken soaking any longer than overnight. Give it 5-6 hours for the best flavour and texture – if you don’t have that long, even 10 minutes of marinating will give flavour to the outside of chicken. Marinades without acid can be left longer but won’t make them work any better, so stick to 24 hours as a maximum.
2. Classic chicken marinades
- Mediterranean marinade: ingredients include olive oil, garlic, lemon zest/juice, oregano, pepper, dried red chilli
- Jerk marinade: ingredients include garlic, chilli, ginger, thyme, brown sugar, soy sauce, allspice
- Tandoori marinade: ingredients include yogurt, ginger, garlic, chilli, turmeric, garam masala
- Teriyaki marinade: ingredients include honey or sugar, mirin, soy sauce
- Barbecue marinade: ingredients include garlic, brown sugar, wine vinegar, paprika
3. Simple chicken marinade recipe
- one garlic clove, crushed
- two tbsp lemon juice
- two tbsp olive oil
- handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or coriander, finely chopped
- Mix the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and herbs in a large bowl and season well.
- Marinate the chicken for 1-2 hours.