The end of the holidays are upon us here in Melbourne. Back to school on Monday and back to planning ahead for the evening meal. No more last minute dinner plans and no more “There’s plenty of time for that to defrost.”
My freezer was looking rather sad. To be honest I had used up every bit of meat I had bought a couple of months ago and it was time to restock. My pantry was still bursting at the hinges so no problem there but the freezer contained nothing more than a box of imported bake in the oven pretzels, (I don’t even know why!), a box of frozen raspberries and two freezer bags of my handsome man’s nonna’s home made spaghetti, which we are making this Sunday.
Time for a shop at the wonderful meat wholesalers close by to my place. I love that place but today I wasn’t really looking forward to it. It was a cold, wet, dark and dreary day and that place is always cold…great to escape the heat in Summer but on a cold Winter day, it’s a killer. The people who work there wear gloves and scarves. This is an indoor place but the temperature is the equivalent to those meat lockers you see in the movies.
Shopping done and near frost bitten, I cranked up the heating in the car and I had made sure I had left the central heating on at home in order to thaw out as quickly as possible. Unpacking meat and bagging everything up is a big process for me and I leave around two hours to get it done (excluding the shopping…I’m talking just the bagging up of the meat).
I separate, marinate and label and date everything that goes in. Plenty of time spent doing this means loads of time saved later. You do this because as the meat begins to freeze, the marinating process has well and truly begun and as it thaws, it continues to marinate, leaving you with meat that is full of flavour and tender. Loads of time saved and great tasting food after a long, tiring day at work.
For minced meat (ground beef) I mix up all the spices and herbs I want with the meat and bag it, label it and it’s ready to go for bolognese or hamburgers. Legs of lamb are coated in garlic oil and dry rosemary, ready for fresh rosemary and garlic cloves once it’s defrosted. I probably only leave sausages and meats I might use for soup stocks unmarinated.
Here are some of the marinades I make up for the various cuts of meat that go into the freezer:
Honey Soy Garlic
Oyster or Mushroom Soy
Add this to chicken pieces like mini drumsticks, wings and strips for a stir fry.
Lemon, Garlic Oil and Mixed Dry Herbs
Use this on chicken breasts or thighs as well as to the above chicken nibbles or to lamb chops and shanks. I even use this on whole family sized chickens for roasting.
Red Wine, Mixed Herbs and Olive Oil
I use this on different cuts of beef; for slow cooking or steaks again as well as on lamb shanks and add some Middle Eastern Spices for a more exotic taste.
Lemon Grass, Ginger, Garlic, Sesame Oil and Tsao Xing Wine
I use this on beef or chicken strips for stir frying.
Maple Syrup, Light Soy Sauce, Chilli and Garlic Oil
I use this on pork ribs (I also use a tangy BBQ marinade for pork ribs)
There are so many different combinations you can use to marinate beef, chicken, lamb and pork…all wonderful and all great time savers when you’re ready to cook. I just take the bag out of the freezer before I go to bed and by the time I get home from work the next day, it’s ready to go!
Yes, you have to think about what you want to marinate your meat in and Yes, you have to decide what you will be eating the following night before you go to bed but I kinda figure that is half the fun. Just a peek into your freezer and seeing all that meat already marinated and just ready for you to say “Hmmm…I think red wine and chilli steaks are the go tomorrow night!”
I could go on and on and on but I think you get the picture. I love doing this and my bestie, who was with me today, absolutely gets a kick out of watching me do this.
I did this for her freezer a couple of months ago and she was just amazed how much her appetite increased. My bestie has Multiple Sclerosis and has had to give up work. Her appetite was almost non existant so I dragged her out and we shopped for meat and marinated, labelled and dated everything. I was thrilled to see her appetite soar purely because she didn’t have to think about anything too hard…just open her freezer and with all the tasty marinades she actually couldn’t wait for dinner and eat…a simple thing like this has changed her whole attitude to food and with frequent hospital visits and physio she hasn’t got the time or energy to think too much about what to cook…she now has us over for home made meat pies and beef stroganoff. She is motivated, healthier and happier.
This is not revolutionary but sometimes we get caught up in the day to day grind and we forget that food is not just fuel. It’s soul healing and wonderful and makes us who we are. If we just constantly shove crap into our bodies then we will constantly feel like crap!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from anti junk food, in fact I love it but you can’t live on it and with all this great food out there, why would you want to?
Make every night a special food night, make it a priority and enjoy!