Three Simple Marinades
Left to right – White wine herb, Mustard garlic and Maple apple cider vinegar marinades. Make all three at once to use time more efficiently.

During this time of a world-wide pandemic and home isolation, many people will need to cook who previously may have frequently eaten out or had food delivered. This can be challenging and even frustrating for some, however, cooking can be made easier, less stressful and even satisfying and joyful when basic techniques and recipes are used.

Marinating food prior to cooking is one way to improve flavor and preserve it for a longer period of time which is even more important than ever at this time. The process of marinating will preserve meat and seafood for 5 up to 7 days, also the food can be frozen which can help prevent freezer burn and when thawed the flavor will be enhanced once cooked. Here are three of my favorite marinades that are easy to prepare with basic pantry ingredients.

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Mustard Garlic Marinade
Yield ½ cup- 2 chicken breasts or 4 to 6 chicken thighs

1 Tbl.                     Whole grain mustard (Dijon can also be used)
1 Tbl.                     Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbl.                     Sugar
2 each                   Garlic Cloves, chopped
6 turns                  Black pepper from a pepper mill
¼ cup                    Vegetable oil

  1. Mix first 5 ingredients together in a small bowl
  2. Whisk in the oil in a slow steady stream to form a thick (emulsified) marinade
  3. Use to marinate chicken or refrigerate to use later.

Maple Apple Cider Vinegar Marinade
Yield 1 ½ cups- 6 to 8 large pork chops

½ cup                   Pure maple syrup
¼ cup                   Apple cider vinegar
¼ cup                   Finely chopped shallots
1/2 Tbl.                 Fresh tarragon leaves (cut the amount in half if using dried herbs)
1 Tbl.                    Fresh thyme leaves (cut the amount in half if using dried herbs)
1/4 cup                 Vegetable oil
1 Tbl.                    Coarse ground black pepper
1 tsp.                     Crushed red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients together and marinate pork chops or refrigerate for later use.

White Wine Herb Marinade
Yield ¾ cup- 3 to 4 pieces of salmon or chicken

¼ cup                    White wine
1 Tbl.                     Finely chopped shallots
1 Tbl.                     Chopped fresh herbs such as basil, tarragon, dill or chives (use 1 teaspoon for dry herbs)
6 turns                  Black Pepper from a pepper mill
½ cup                    Olive Oil

Mix all together and marinate salmon or chicken or store for later use.

Here are some tips for proper marinating:

  • Make sure that the meats and fish are all well coated on all sides prior to storing them.
  • All of these marinades add the most flavor when they are left overnight in the refrigerator to enable the flavors to fully penetrate the proteins.
  • Turning the meats or fish after 8 to 10 hours helps to ensure more even penetration of the marinade.
  • If a shorter time is needed to marinate the protein in the case of the Maple Cider Vinegar or White Wine Herb Vinegar the marinade can be heated on the stove or microwaved then cooled prior to use.
Cast Iron Seared Maple Apple Cider Vinegar Pork Chop
Marinated Pork Chop with Apple Cider Vinegar Marinade is topped with fresh thyme sprigs and basted with butter while cooking.

Marinating foods prior to cooking is just one example and an easy way to create great meals at home when combined with good cooking principles and flavorful accompaniments. I hope you enjoy these recipes and be safe and well during these trying times.