What’s more American than hot dogs, hamburgers, and ice cold beer? None of those things, actually. “Hot dogs” or frankfurters originated in Frankfurt, Germany, where a similar pork sausage was served. The hamburger is a deviant of a dish served in Hamburg, Germany in the 1800s. Beer? Originated in Egypt and Iran and was spread throughout Europe by German and Celtic tribes. Apple pie originated in the Netherlands in the 1500s. French fries… well, you get the idea.
This weekend, America will be 241 years young. Our traditions and our culinary history are defined by our immigrant culture. Even formalized barbeque started on the shores of the Caribbean. While these traditions may have started overseas, they are now woven into the tapestry of our nation. Key ingredients in a special sauce that makes America, America.
Given that a majority of our Independence Day traditions take place on the grill, we thought it would be fun to try these ‘Made in America’ marinades with that are inspired by various drops in our country’s melting pot. Marinate meat for a minimum of 30 minutes to as long as overnight. Happy 4th!
8 Traditional ‘American’ Marinades for Your Independence Day BBQ
1. Irish-American Whiskey Marinade
Irish immigrants first arrived in America around the year 1820 and the first Irish-American whiskey, The Emerald, was made in the U.S. in 1865. This whiskey marinade is fantastic on steak or hamburgers.
- 1 oz. Irish whiskey
- 1 – 1 ½ oz. soy sauce
- S1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 dashes worcestershire sauce
- a few grinds black pepper
2. Summer Italian-American Marinade
The first large rush of Italian immigrants to the U.S. was also in 1820. By the 1930s, Italian Americans were the leading producers of grapes in California. Many well-known wine brands such as Mondavi, Carlo Rossi, Petri, Sebastiani, and Gallo came from those early enterprises. The marinade below is excellent on grilled chicken or fish.
- 1 ¾ c. dry white wine
- ½ c. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp. minced red onion
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp. crushed black peppercorns
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tbsp. Kosher salt
3. Mexican-American Carne Asada Marinade
Mexican American history spans 400 years (yes, older than the United States!) and varies from region to region in the U.S. In 1900, there were more than 500,000 Mexican-Americans living in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, California, and Texas. With the influx came chipotle (or smoke-dried jalapeno) peppers — the primary ingredient in adobo sauce. This marinade is fantastic for Carne Asada, or grilled flank steak.
- ¾ c. orange juice
- ½ c. lemon juice
- ⅓ c. lime juice
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ c. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. finely chopped canned chipotle pepper
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tbsp. black pepper
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- ½ c. olive oil
4. Haitian-American Epis Marinade or Base
In the French colony of Saint-Domingue, France tried to reintroduce slavery in 1804 to a revolt by former slaves. Saint-Domingue was declared the Republic of Haiti. Many of the wealthy colonists fled and took their Haitian slaves with them to New Orleans. Wealthy Haitian freedmen also immigrated, seeking to cultivate their own plots of land in South Florida. “Epis” means “the all-soaked” is used as a base or marinade in most Haitian meats, in rice blends, soups, and stews. This incredibly flavorful marinade is so versatile it can be used on poultry, fish, or beef.
- 10 sprigs of parsley
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 c. cilantro
- 2 green bell peppers
- 3 scallion stalks
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 tsp. clove powder
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 3 heads of garlic
- 2 tbsp. lime juice (1 lime)
- ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp. Vinegar
5. Greek-American Souvlaki Marinade
Greek immigrants have been colonizing in America since the late 1700s in Florida. By 1866, the community was so numerous that America had established its first Greek consulate in New Orleans. Souvlaki is a dish of skewered meat and vegetables, typically served with grilled bread or pita with various garnishes and sauces or as a dish with a side of fried potatoes. This marinade is a great on just about anything, but really pops on grilled chicken!
- ⅓ c. extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ c. red wine vinegar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- 2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
6. Korean-American BBQ Marinade
In 1903, the first group of Korean laborers came to Hawaii on January 13 (now known annually as Korean American Day). Between 1904 and 1907, roughly 1,000 Korean immigrants entered the mainland from Hawaii through San Francisco. After the annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910, Korean migration to the U.S. came to a full stop. It wasn’t until 1952 that opportunities were more open to Asian Americans, enabling Korean Americans to move out of enclaves and into middle-class neighborhoods. With Korean immigration came Bulgogi or “Korean BBQ.” This tangy marinade is beautiful on grilled short ribs. The longer you marinate, the better!
- ½ c. reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. water
- 1 ½ tbsp. raw or turbinado sugar
- 1 tbsp. dark sesame oil
- 1 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- ½ c. chopped scallions
7. Israeli-American Date Marinade
This recipe actually came from a collection of marinades suggested for Israeli Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut), so it’s a fitting marinade for the 4th! Israelis began migrating to the United States shortly after the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. Date honey or date syrup (silan) was first brought to Israel by Iraqi Jews and is used similarly to molasses in a number of dishes. There are a number of recipes online for making your own or you can purchase silan online from websites like Amazon.com. This marinade pairs very well with a smoky grilled chicken and is best if left to marinate overnight.
- 4 tbsp. silan (date syrup)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. apple vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
8. Jamaican-American Jerk Chicken Marinade
Jamaicans were originally brought to the United States as slaves in 1838 with the explosion of the sugar plantations in European colonies in the Caribbean. That said, the first immigration wave for Jamaicans in America wasn’t until the 1960s. Presently, most Jamaican-Americans and immigrants reside in New York City. This dish might very well already be on your grilling menu. Grilled jerk chicken dates back to 1655, likely earlier, standing the test of time.
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 fresh Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed and seeded
- ¼ c. fresh lime juice
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ tbsp. Salt
- 1 tbsp. packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tsp. ground allspice
- 2 tsp. ground black pepper
- ¾ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
We wish you and your family a safe and happy Independence Day! Like many Americans, we look for opportunities to support the American worker and American entrepreneur. We’re proud to tell our customers about the brands we carry that produce 100% of their merchandise in the United States.
For more inspiration for family activities or gift ideas, visit us at thepajamacompany.com/blog.