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Ready, Set, Marinate!

These four savory sauces will secure your status as a barbecue guru

You’ve gone grocery shopping, stocked up on beer, and confirmed that the barbecue is in working order. These things are important, but experienced grill masters know that a great marinade (and maybe one killer potato salad) is the true secret of a successful barbecue. Whether you’re cooking beef, chicken, steak or pork, the right soaking sauce will tenderize, boost flavor and take any dish from fine to sublime.

Cook’s Note: For all recipes, whisk ingredients together vigorously until they are combined. Place sauce with meat, chicken or fish to be marinated in a glass container or a resealable plastic bag with the air squeezed out. For safety reasons, never marinate at room temperature—use the refrigerator. These recipes are for about 2 pounds of each ingredient.

For Beef: Zesty Steak Marinade

½ c. dry white wine
¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. ancho chili powder
3 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 scallions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Flank steak directions: Marinate flank steak for up to six hours, refrigerated. For medium-rare steak, grill 5 to 6 minutes per side, turning once.

For Chicken: Soy-Sake Chicken Marinade

6 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 Tbsp. sake or rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. minced or dried garlic
2 tsp. dried chili flakes
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Boneless chicken breast directions: Marinate boneless chicken breasts for three hours, refrigerated. Grill 6 to 8 minutes per side, turning once.

For Fish: Spicy Citrus Marinade

1 c. orange juice
¼ c. fresh lemon juice
¼ c. fresh lime juice
¼ c. fresh oregano, chopped
¼ c. neutral-flavored oil (such as corn or vegetable)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeños, sliced into rounds
1 tsp. salt

Salmon fillet directions: Marinate fish fillets for 30 minutes, refrigerated. Grill for 10 minutes, starting skin side up, turning once.

For Pork: Chile-Lemongrass Marinade

¾ c. sugar
½ c. fish sauce
1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. minced shallot (or onion)
1 small chili pepper (such as Thai, serrano or cayenne), finely diced
¼ tsp. pepper

Pork tenderloin directions: Marinate pork tenderloins for up to six hours, refrigerated. Grill for 18 minutes, turning four times.