We’re talking game-changer here.
North African Marinade Recipe
Credit: Daniel Agee; Food Styling: Mark Driskill; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Marinades are a surprisingly polarizing food. On the one hand, marinade fans swear by the liquid's ability to tenderize and flavor proteins, whether made at home with secret recipes or grabbed at the supermarket. On the other side, there's a contention that a marinade's flavor only penetrates the first 1/16 inch of any protein, and that any "tenderizing" is actually acid in the marinade starting to digest the meat and making it mushy rather than tender. 

My marinade solution: Use it after grilling!

I choose to remain neutral in this debate. And this is because for the last decade or so, I only use my marinades after my food comes off the grill. And yes, I know the term marinade seems to imply a beforehand application, especially since the root is in a Spanish term for pickling in brine, but let's not argue semantics. A punchy anointment on anything coming off your grill is a good thing. What differentiates it from sauce? The fact that you plunge your protein in it to bathe while it rests.

Why I marinate meat after grilling

My reason for starting to do this was simple. I was tired of marinated meats tasting more of marinade than meat, and I was annoyed by how often marinades create issues when grilling. Oily marinades drip and can cause flare-ups and petrol-scented burning and crusting on your dinner. Any sugar in a marinade burns quickly, and that dark sear may send a false signal of doneness. More than once I have had a charred on the outside/raw on the inside chicken thigh or lamb chop mess with my evening. And often, marinated meats cook up dry on a grill, since the salt and acid in the marinade has drawn out some of the natural juices.

I also hate the waste of a marinade. Once raw meat has been soaked in anything, it is no longer safe to use as a baste or sauce. Watching a cup or more of oil and herbs and ingredients head into the trash is always a pity. So instead of giving my meats a pre-grill soak? I let them luxuriate in a flavorful post-cooking bath, and my dinners are the better for it.

Remember first that meat should rest for 10-20 minutes after it finishes cooking. Letting your proteins spend that time in a marinade has several benefits. As the hot protein relaxes, it warms the marinade, bringing out max flavor, and some of the juices blend into the marinade to create an instant sauce. Your meat gets fully coated in the marinade, but still tastes like meat underneath, for that perfect balance. The marinade is safe to use as a sauce since it has never touched raw meat, and leftovers can even be refrigerated and used as salad dressing for a no-waste application. And never will your marinade call the shots while grilling: no flare-ups, no burning, no false flag on doneness. 

How to use marinade after grilling 

You can use any marinade recipe or store-bought bottle that you love. Just put in a shallow dish and take your meats off the grill and right into the dish, and as the meat rests, turn every 2-3 minutes to give all sides their time in the bath. After your meat has rested, serve with the now-warmed and enriched sauce on the side.