For A Well-Balanced Bourbon Marinade, Don't Forget To Add Acidity

 bourbon marinated ribs
bourbon marinated ribs - Ramon grosso dolarea/Shutterstock

The rich, sweet notes within bourbon make it hard to say no to any boozy marinade that the liquor is in. A splash easily elevates dishes with its woodsy flair and toffee-tasting touch. As much as we love the depth that it brings, the best bourbon marinades also have a hint of acidity that keeps us coming back for more.

No matter which tasting notes are in bourbon, the consummate flavor is deep and full-bodied. Although that's part of the draw of bourbon, it becomes too much when one piece of meat is completely slathered in it -- especially if it's something rich like beef or pork. To prevent it from becoming overwhelming, a splash of acid will stop the bourbon from dominating a marinade while still highlighting its intricate flavors. In our maple bourbon steak tips dish, recipe developer Chanel Murphy-Lowe opts for pineapple juice to balance out the flavors while still maintaining the sweetness from both bourbon and maple syrup.

When making the marinade, mix the acidic component in right away, giving it time to intermingle with the other flavors. Since bourbon's flavor will be pretty prominent, you won't need to add too much of the liquor. You can either go with equal amounts of bourbon and white vinegar, or use half a cup of your acidic ingredient to one cup of bourbon.

Read more: The 27 Best Bourbon Brands, Ranked

Which Acidic Ingredient Is Right For Bourbon Marinade?

bourbon marinated meat in bag
bourbon marinated meat in bag - Candice Bell/Shutterstock

Before you get around to choosing which acid to add in, you'll need to pick your bottle of bourbon. When choosing which bourbon to cook with, follow the wine rule: Don't cheap out, but don't splash out on something special that you'd rather reserve to sip on unaccompanied. A bourbon that's rife with nuances that you wouldn't mind using up makes the best marinade for your meat, poultry, or chicken. From there, you can look a little deeper at the tasting notes.

Something that's both woodsy and nutty has a richness that will mirror your steak and pork dishes. If you want to maintain that depth, spring for balsamic vinegar or even some Worcestershire sauce as the acid ingredient -- both have a savory touch to balance the sweetness while cutting through the full-bodied taste. For bourbons that lean towards fruity or herbaceous flavors, though, working with the lightness can turn it into the perfect marinade or glaze for salmon or blackened pan-seared tilapia. Pineapple or orange juice are good choices here, as is lemon zest and juice.

Lemon juice would also pair well with more saccharine bourbons. Ones with tasting notes of vanilla, toffee, caramel, or butterscotch could be lightened with a slightly sweet citrus that doesn't temper their honeyed taste too much. The combination brings the right amount of flavor to chicken, especially when the bourbon has elements of nutmeg or cinnamon for depth and spice.

Read the original article on Tasting Table