Low-Sodium Marinades for Chicken

Cut the salt, not flavor, when preparing chicken

When marinating chicken, do away with the salt without sacrificing flavor or juiciness. A variety of herbs, spices and liquids add spice and interest to the same old chicken parts, allowing you to eschew the salt shaker. The result is chicken that is not only heart-healthy, but also as flavorful and tender as pieces you may have marinated in the past.


Pucker Up

The acids from vinegar break down the fibers in chicken, making it tender and juicy. Bring together an Italian marinade without reaching for a bottle of dressing by marinating chicken parts in 1 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves -- you can substitute 1 tbsp. of dried -- and a few cranks of the pepper grinder. Go Asian with 1 cup rice vinegar dressed up with 2 tsp. of sugar or low calorie sweetener, 1 tsp. each of fresh mint and lemongrass, and a small can of chopped green chiles. Try 1 cup of sherry vinegar enlivened with chives and 1 tbsp. of brown sugar.


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Fruit Fancies

Citrus juices act much the same way as vinegar, with the acids acting as a low-sodium tenderizer. Combine a cup of orange juice with 1/4 cup apricot jam and add 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp. dried rosemary leaves and black pepper. Try 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice stirred into a cup of sesame oil with 1 tbsp. of fresh ginger makes a quick and savory marinade. Two cups grapefruit juice, minced garlic and tarragon makes a tasty chicken marinade.

Dream Creams

Thin plain Greek yogurt with 1 tsp. of water or lemon juice and let your imagination run wild. Fold 2 tbsp. of curry powder and fresh ginger into 2 cups of yogurt for an easy tandoori chicken marinade that is delicious either baked or grilled. For Greek chicken, combine 1 tsp. each oregano, mint and marjoram and stir in chopped garlic to taste. Soaking chicken in a mixture of buttermilk, black pepper, sage and paprika also adds tang without excess salt.


Marinating Tips

Choose store-bought marinades with care. Check the label, since many commercially prepared marinades and sauces can be loaded with salt. Paulette Mitchell, author of "The 15-Minute Chicken Gourmet" advises marinating chicken in the refrigerator, never on the counter or outside by the grill. The marinades can be used as a sauce if cooked to the boiling point -- never serve the marinade from raw chicken "as is" or save it for future dishes as you may risk salmonella poisoning. Mitchell says "if it doubt, throw it out" since it is hard to tell by look or smell whether the marinade could cause a foodborne illness.




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