Chapa’s Party Marinades

3 08 2008

I recently held the third annual birthday party in Golden Gate Park for my husband Michael. Every year gets a bit easier to run as I climb the learning curve, so I figured I would share my tips for a successful barbecue!

This year I was pressed for time and only had 6 hours to actually prepare the food, 9:30 til 3:30am the night before!  Despite that, the marinades were on long enough considering that they were served at midday or later. 

My general “rule” of thumb is to experiment!  Try creating balance of acid, sweetness, spice and salt.  I try using something with acidity like vinegar, citrus, etc., something with sweetness like molasses, honey, etc., and then balance the marinade with spice or salt.  You can boost flavor with garlic and onions, but I have a friend who is allergic so I opted to leave them out of most, this also saves a lot of chopping!  The best part is that you can’t make a mistake, but here are some of my recipes.  Don’t worry about being overly accurate with measurements and try mixing and matching these with different cuts of meat!  Enjoy!


  • I use Ziploc bags for marinades, they take up much less space in your refrigerator and your cooler.  Place the bags on a tray with sides in case you get a leak! 
  • I did not use chicken as I find it hard to cook chicken to the proper temperature on a busy grill. 
  • Try to make sure all meats are cooked to the proper temperature to prevent illness and always keep them sufficiently cooled.  Do not reuse meats that have been out of the cooler.
  • Prevent cross contamination by using a tub of bleach and water or cleaners to make sure you don’t spread juices from each item around, have a separate cooler for raw foods and one for salads.  Be sure to have a separate platter for raw foods and those that come off the grill.
  • Marinades are NOT sauces.  Throw them away right after you remove the meat, if you cook the meat properly it won’t need a sauce, or you can make a separate sauce or salsa beforehand.

Old Bay Pork Ribs

1 lb Pork Ribs, 1 tbs Mustard seed, 1 tbs Old Bay Seasoning, 1/4 cup Cane Syrup, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup maple syrup

Second Wind Steak

1 flap steak/hangar steak, rub steak with 1 cup of unused ground coffee, salt and pepper.  Fill bag with 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 cup pomegranate molasses, 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 molasses.  The acids in the coffee help to make the meat more tender and give your party goers a kick!

Cilantro Shrimp

Cover shrimp in lime, garlic, cilantro, chipotle powder and water.


Skirt steak, 2 cups lime juice, 3-4 cloves crushed garlic, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, chipotle powder to taste.  Be sure to slice the skirt steak across the grain to make it more tender.  Serve with raw chopped cilantro, onions, casero (Mexican cheese) and salsas.

Asian Inspired Pork Loin

1 cup soy sauce, 1 large clove ginger (no need to peel just slice into dime sized rounds, 3-6 cloves crushed garlic, 2 chopped scallions, 3 tbs sesame seeds, cover with water.

Cherry Pork Loin

1 cup cherry juice, 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses, 1 cup pomegranate juice, 5 cloves, 1 tbs molasses, 1 tbs balsamic.  You use the cherries to make a separate sauce with a bit of butter, salt, and molasses.



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