The secret to a really good grilled pork chop is the marinade because the goal of a marinade is to add flavor and to tenderize. The three main components of a good marinade are fat, acid and flavorings. The combination of all three helps break down the cell structure of the meat, tenderize it and add flavor. The ratio of fat to acid is 2:1; that is, 2 parts fat and 1 part acid.
The table below gives you some options of all three for beef, pork, or chicken.
Before combining the 3 components, think about the desired flavor. Stick to a few flavorings rather than dumping a bunch of different spices or herbs. The end result should be a distinctive, bold flavor and not a mish mash. I usually marinate meat between 2 and 8 hours (sometimes overnight) in the refrigerator in a gallon size Ziploc bag placed in a tray to catch any leaks should they occur. Fish should not be marinated for more than 30 minutes. Whatever you use, make sure it is non-reactive material. And once you have finished marinating and ready to cook, discard the marinade – it has done its job. Do not baste the food with the marinade.
Brining is another way to tenderize and moisturize meats, though I have found it doesn’t add as much flavor as marinating. To make a brining solution, combine 1 cup of hot water, 1/3 cup of kosher salt and ¼ cup of sugar and bring to a boil. Sitr until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature and add enough ice cubes to make 1 quart. Brine boneless chicken breast for 30 minutes at room temperature; fish, shellfish, and shrimp 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature; whole chickens, pork loins and turkey breasts 4 – 12 hours in the refrigerator; and the Thanksgiving turkey 1 – 2 days in the refrigerator.
My favorite thing about marinades is that you can be as creative as you wish. And you do not have to stick to the same marinade all the time. The world is your oyster – or marinade. Enjoy!