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