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How Do I Choose the Best Olive Oil Marinade?

By Anna B. Smith
Updated May 16, 2024
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Cooks searching for the best recipe or best pre-made bottle of olive oil marinade should first begin by considering the type of food they will be cooking. This will help them determine the tenderizing agent that will best pair with their food. Once they have established the base ingredients of oil and vinegar or wine, they may then decide the blend of herbs and spices that will taste the best with the other food items that will be served on their menu.

An olive oil marinade may be blended at home or purchased in a complete form from the grocery store. Olive oil serves as a binding agent that blends the different flavors of the marinade together and adheres them to the meat or vegetables being cooked. This primary, base ingredient should typically be extra virgin. This is the oil that has been obtained from the initial press of the olives, and it is both flavorful and subtle. Cooks can purchase this item for use in their own marinade creations, or they can check the ingredient label on pre-mixed marinades to discover what type of oil is used.

A tenderizing agent should also be included in the marinade, that softens the meat or the vegetables before they are cooked. This can take the form of a vinegar, a citrus juice, or an alcohol. These ingredients should generally be blended in equal measure to the olive oil to create a rich and powerful flavor.

The choice of tenderizing agent used in the olive oil marinade should be based on the type of food being prepared. Red wine vinegars, red wines, and port add slightly deep and bitter notes to a marinade, and blend well with red meats, such as steak, prime rib, and a London broil. White vinegars can be somewhat sweet and are commonly used over chicken and vegetables. These include rice wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, and table vinegar. Citrus juice, such as lemon, lime, and orange juice, are frequently paired with chicken or fish.

Any type of seasonings may be combined with the olive oil and the tenderizing agent to create a delicious signature dish. Shallots, which are small, very flavorful onions, may be blended into marinades based on red wines and allowed to cook with the meat in the oven or the grill. Sweet spices, such as allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon often pair well with pork and ham, which can be cooked with other fruits and sweet juices. Cayenne pepper and chopped jalapenos may be added to these blends to create a spicy Caribbean "jerk" effect over grilled meat.

Italian herbs, such as basil, rosemary, thyme, and oregano are frequently found in all types of olive oil marinade, regardless of the additional ingredients. These herbs are fresh, heady, and complement virtually any type of meat and any style of meal. They also cook well over vegetables.

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Discussion Comments

By Raynbow — On Apr 03, 2014
@heavanet- Sometimes I just mix olive oil with spices, and do not use any vinegar. Then I just dab in on the meat that I want to marinate. This type of marinade is extremely easy to make, and is great when you prefer the natural flavor of the meat.
By Heavanet — On Apr 02, 2014

A simple olive oil marinade is easy to make and tastes great. I mix extra virgin olive oil with several teaspoons of balsamic vinegar. Next I add my favorite spices and I have a marinade that is great for different types of meat and fish.

The good thing about this recipe is that you can alter the amount of vinegar you use based on your taste preference, and use any types of spices your like.

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