There are literally hundreds of pork marinades out there, to satisfy every taste imaginable. Some can be quite sweet and dominating, while others are more delicate. My favorite type of pork marinade is the subtle one that just enhances the pork flavor.
Not every pork cut needs to be marinated, but every cut will benefit from marination. Let’s take pork butt for example. It’s tender enough to only need salt and pepper to get a great barbecue. If you cook it right, meaning you don’t overcook it, it will be very tender and juicy. Still, I like to marinate it for better flavor and a bit of increased tenderness.
My favorite pork marinade is onion juice. What??? How can that be a marinade? Let me tell you, onion juice is used widely as a marinade in Central Asia.
Onion juice tenderizes the meat very gently, and does not change its texture or makes it mushy. It contains sugars the lend the pork subtle sweetness. The sugars from the onion on the surface of the meat will caramelize and improve the meat’s flavor without taking anything away. Whoever thought of using onion juice to marinate pork was a genius.
- 2 lbs pork tenderloin pork butt, pork rib meat, cut into 1 1/2 - 2 inch pieces
- 2 medium onions thinly sliced and squeezed by hands until the juices are released (alternatively, use 1 medium onion, peeled and ground on a meat grinder or grated)
- 2 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp hot chili powder or cayenne pepper optional
- 1/2 Tbsp sweet paprika optional
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- Mix all ingredients for the marinade together in a large bowl. Add the pork and mix well until the meat is covered with the marinade all over.
- Cover and refrigerate from 2 to 6 hours, depending on the cut. That is pork tenderloin, pork neck (coppa) will only need about 2 hours of marination, while other cuts need a bit longer.
- Remove excess pork marinade and onion rings before cooking over direct heat (e.g. grilling) to avoid burning. For other methods of cooking it's less of an issue and is a matter of personal taste.
This pork marinade can also be used successfully to marinate chicken meat. It probably won’t match the ever so popular Killer Chicken Thigh Marinade, but it’s really good for BBQ chicken as it won’t burn as easily when exposed to direct heat. When using to marinate chicken, add lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon, it will help better tenderize the chicken meat.
Another simple and genius pork marinade
Did you like the onion marinade? Here is another very similar, subtle pork marinade based on tomato juice. You can use it for grilling pork as well as for any other cooking method.
- 2 lbs pork tenderloin, pork butt, pork rib meat, cut into 1½ – 2 inch pieces
- Juice from 2 medium size tomatoes
- Soy sauce, equal to the tomato juice by volume
- 1/2 tsp corn starch
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- Grate the tomatoes, place into a fine mesh colander over a large bowl to drain the juice. If you don’t have a fine mesh colander, use a cheese cloth.
- In a small sauce pan, mix all of the ingredients for the marinade really well, then heat over medium heat until the marinade thickens just a little. Let cool completely.
- Add the meat pieces to the marinade and mix well. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Thread the meat on skewers, saving left over marinade. Grill until about almost done. Brush the remainder of the marinade and continue grilling until done, frequently turning as this marinade is prone to burning when exposed to direct heat.
This pork marinade creates a beautiful and tasty crust on the outside. It’s ridiculously good.
Just as good: