On the rare occasion that I get my truck detailed, usually after duck season, it never fails to put a smile on my face. There’s something about a freshly waxed vehicle with a sparkly sheen that makes me happy. Glazing meats has the same impact on my emotions. Brushing a glaze onto grilled meats prior to removing them from the grill creates a waxy shine on the outside while adding an additional layer of flavor.
Glazes are thicker than marinades, so they adhere well to the grilled meat. When the glaze contains an ingredient like honey, sugar, or molasses, it adds a sweet, textural feel when you chomp down on it. But be aware that adding a sugary glaze too soon in the cooking process can result in a burnt, bitter taste, so it’s important to know when to apply it.
A glaze can simply be a thickened version of whatever marinade you used prior to cooking. Any liquid can be thickened with a mixture of equal parts cornstarch and cold water added to the liquid while it’s boiling in a pot or skillet. Arrowroot and a roux are also effective thickeners. I prefer to use a glaze that is complementary but not identical to whatever marinade I might have used. If my marinade is slightly sweet, my glaze will be on the spicy side. Savory, herbal marinades pair well with a glaze that is tangy and citrusy. Tart fruits like lemon and lime add high notes. The acidic juices awaken the taste buds and add life to all the flavors in cooked meats. Glazes should be applied just minutes before removing the meat from the flame. I always brush on another layer of glaze just before it comes off the grill, giving it a glossy shine.
BUTTERY CITRUS GLAZE
MAKES: 1 1/2 TO 2 CUPS OF GLAZE
Basting grilled meats with melted butter will add flavor and help to crisp up the skin. When melted butter is combined with citrus, garlic, and a little spicy heat, it’s an unbeatable combination. Adding a little honey or brown sugar to the mix is an option, but be careful not to brush it on the meat too early in the cooking process, since sugars burn easily over open flames. Zest comes from the outside surface of the citrus fruits, not the bitter white pithy part just below the skin. You can use a zester or carefully remove the top layer with a vegetable peeler.
- Pulp and zest from one orange, one grapefruit, one lemon, and one lime
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon peeled and minced gingerroot
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- 1 seeded and diced jalapeño pepper
- 1/4 cup melted butter
[STEP 1] Add all ingredients except butter to a food processor. Process until mostly smooth—a few small chunks are okay. Add melted butter and process to blend.
[STEP 2] Brush glaze evenly onto grilled meat a few minutes before removing from the grill and once more just before removing the meat from the grill.