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How Long Should You Marinate Your Food?

How Long Should You Marinate Your Food?

Have you ever reached for a favorite recipe to find that it requires you marinate the chicken overnight? You had to rule out that recipe as an option for the evening and need to rethink your plans. This question may have popped into your head: is it necessary to marinate food and for how long exactly?

Should you bother to marinate your meat overnight, or skip it entirely?

I advise that you try your recipe with the marinade anyway, because even a few minutes sitting in a marinade can greatly enhance the flavor of your ingredients.

That marinade will also improve the texture. Chicken thighs marinated will seem more succulent and juicy than regular chicken thigh fillets.

So should marinating really take hours? It doesn’t have to, but if you have the time, there are two primary reasons to consider marinades: They add flavor and they tenderize the meat.

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Here are some further tips for delicious and safe marinating.

1. Marinating doesn’t have to be complicated.

The best marinades are often very simple, some oil and vinegar or lemon juice will do. Herbs, spices or garlic can add interest, but aren’t essential.

2. Use “non-reactive” containers.

You should mix your marinade in a glass or ceramic bowl and toss the meat in. Metal or plastic containers are best avoided. You could also use a zip lock bag because it’s a great way to get lots of contact between the marinade and the surface of the food, but I often worry about plastic leaching into food.

3. Know when to refrigerate.

If you’re going to cook right away, just leave the marinating ingredients sit while you get ready to cook. However, if you’re not going to be cooking for a few hours or longer, do cover and refrigerate.

4. Cook or discard any used marinade.

You can use the leftover marinade for a sauce. If a marinade has been used for raw food, definitely discard it or boil vigorously for at least 5 minutes before using as a sauce.

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5. Consider a “post-cooking” marinade.

This works when you’re short on time because you can get the food on to cook and mix up your marinade or sauce while it cooks. The post-cooking technique works well for meat because as it rests in the marinade, the juices combine with the marinade to make a delicious sauce. Try cooking a steak then drizzling over lemon juice and olive oil while it rests.

Marinating is also a wonderful way to add flavor to grilled or barbecued vegetables. Try tossing grilled zucchini, bell peppers and eggplant in a post-cooking marinade of one part balsamic vinegar and three parts oil spiked with a clove of garlic and some chopped rosemary. Just remember to remove the raw garlic before serving.

In the recipe below, you can get the same great harissa marinade flavor merely by applying the harissa to the meat before it goes into the pan. If you have time to marinate, do go ahead.

Harissa is a hot spice paste from Morocco and Tunisia. You can buy it in tubes from a good deli. I usually cook my steaks at a very high heat, but I find it’s better to use a more gentle heat here to keep the harissa from burning.

Harissa Steaks with Yogurt Sauce

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Harissa Steak by Jules Clancy

    Serves 2

    2 steaks, trimmed

    2-4 tablespoons harissa

    6-8 tablespoons natural yogurt

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    3-4 handfuls baby spinach

    1. Heat a frying pan or BBQ on a medium high heat.

    2. Combine harissa with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Taste and if it’s not hot enough add more harissa. Toss steaks in the harissa mixture.

    3. Sear steaks for 2-3 minutes each side or until well browned and cooked to your liking.

    4. Season yogurt with salt and pepper and divide between 2 serving plates. Top with steaks and baby spinach leaves.

    Featured photo credit: Jules Clancy via flic.kr

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2020

    Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

    Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

    Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

    Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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    Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

    However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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    The leap happens when we realize two things:

    1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
    2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

    Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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    Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

    My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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    In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

    “Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

    Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

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