All About Marinating: Letting It Soak In

If you’ve got some time before you’re preparing to fire up the grill, why not try adding a burst of flavour to your meal by preparing a marinade? Marinating your food before you grill it will give the meat a tender quality, and produce a juicy finished product.

Not only can you concoct a marinade in a few minutes, but you’ll have a few hours to kill while your meat is marinating. Most meats should be soaked in a marinade for no less than two hours – you can even let your meat marinate overnight to bring out the best flavours. Large cuts of meat, such as beef brisket, can be soaked in a marinade for up to 24 hours before grilling.

However, be careful not to over-marinate! Over-marinating will turn your delicate piece of fish into mush if left too long. Also, if you’re adding vinegar to your marinade, make sure not to soak the meat for more than 30 minutes as the vinegar will begin to toughen the meat, not tenderize it.

To create your own marinade, make sure that one of the liquids is acidic – that’s how the meat becomes tenderized. Choose from vinegar, wine, citrus juice, or pineapple or apple juice. You can also choose to add an oil such as olive oil. Finish off your marinade by adding some herbs or spices, salt, pepper, and garlic.

If you want to use the marinade as a sauce, never use the liquid in which your meat has already soaked. Since you’ve combined the marinade with raw meat, you could risk getting food poisoning by reusing the marinade. It’s wise to prepare a fresh marinade to use as the sauce instead.

Happy marinating!




PREP TIME: 25 minutes

MARINATING TIME: 4 to 6 hours

GRILLING TIME: 40 to 45 minutes

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: sheet pan and 2 foil-wrapped bricks


½ cup packed roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

? cup packed roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons paprika

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


4 whole chicken legs, each 10 to 12 ounces, trimmed of excess fat and skin

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh mint leaves


1. In a small bowl combine the marinade ingredients.

2. Cut a few deep slashes in the meaty part of each chicken leg. Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade, place in a bowl, and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, turning the bag occasionally.

3. Prepare the grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium-high heat (400° to 500°F).

4. Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade. Place the chicken, skin side down, over indirect medium-high heat. Place a sheet pan on top of the chicken and weight it down with two foil-wrapped bricks. Close the lid and cook until golden around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bricks and sheet pan and, using a large spatula, carefully turn the chicken legs over, being careful not to tear the skin. Replace the weight, close the lid, and cook until the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink at the bone, about 20 minutes more. If desired, to crisp the skin, remove the weight, turn the chicken skin side down, and grill over direct medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from the grill, garnish with the cilantro and mint, and serve warm.

Recipe by Jamie Purviance can be found on