Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cooking In A Crunch: Marinade Shortcut

It happens a lot when you have a busy schedule -- you come home from work, all geared up to fix yourself a decent dinner (for a change), marinate a bit of meat or poultry, and throw it on the grill or under the broiler.

Except the marinade recipe in the cookbook says you should marinate at least four hours -- but preferably overnight -- in the fridge.

Except the bottle of marinade on the pantry shelf says that you should marinate at least 30 minutes.

Either way, your schedule and your growling stomach don't allow for a wait tonight. Maybe you settle for something else for dinner. Maybe you order takeout. Maybe you try to "shortcut" the marinade and let things sit for 10 minutes -- only to taste your final meal and realize that 10 minutes didn't do the job.

Sure, you can get one of the 10-minute marinades (I've grown fond of the ones from
Mrs. Dash). But it seems your store only ever carries the same three flavors, and everyone's diet needs more variety than that. The best flavor and the best variety, though, comes from making your own marinades.

So how do you manage? Do what a former co-worker of mine does. When you come back from the grocery store with new trays of beef, pork, chicken, or fish:

1. Separate the contents of the trays into freezer bags (however many pieces you need for a meal for you alone or for your entire family).

2. Make your marinades.

3. Measure the marinades accordingly and pour them into the freezer bags with the meat, poultry, or fish.

4. Label the freezer bag with the date and a description of the contents.

5. Toss everything into the freezer.

Then, whenever you want, pull out a bag to thaw overnight or while you're at work. By the time you pull the bag out of the fridge, the contents will have been marinading for hours. No matter how little time you have, you'll still be able to whip up a tasty entree on the grill or under the broiler!

—Post by Whitney


Tumerica said...

Yeah! Thank you so much--wonderful, sage advice. Marinades make all the difference. And professionals chefs do this same technique. We can too if we train ourselves. The outcome is SO worth it.

doggybloggy said...

I forget that many post to this first I thought that the poster was commenting on themselves...LOL this is age old fanny farmer but well worth mentioning...flavor is everything

foodette said...

No why didn't I think of that? Good idea!

Whitney said...

Foodette -- I said almost exactly the same thing when Kevin first shared the tip with me. :-)

Tumerica -- Okay, so I got the ball rolling on the topic. you have any marinade recipes to share? [nudge nudge]

Tumerica said...

My all-time favorite for simple-stupid and delightful is a shrimp one I discovered by accident. Buy good-sized raw shrimp with the shells on (shells keep the flesh moist--and we all know that's a GOOD thing, har, har). Marinate in equal parts whiskey (or bourbon) and soy sauce--a couple TBS per pound. A couple of hours will do the trick. Thread a set of three or four shrimp onto two skewers and then grill FAST. Shrimp grilled this way is EXQUISITE and it take no time at all.