A life-changing kitchen do-ahead hack

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We’ve all seen those memes of moms who go on “vacation” with the family only to spend time cooking and cleaning in a poorly equipped kitchen, while the rest of the clan swims, sunbathes, hikes and canoes.

Now, I am not in any way suggesting that is my experience these days, but I am familiar with the concept. We rented a cottage at the shore for a few weeks in September, and I was determined to avoid such a fate. I devised a method of provisioning that seemed almost magical, was ideal for traveling and I will probably replicate it on the homefront for its sheer convenience and ease.


It involved doing the prep work in my well-equipped, well-provisioned home kitchen and freezing the food in zip-seal bags. I had never marinated and frozen meat before, and it worked like a charm. Arguably, the ingredients permeated the meat more thoroughly, bringing about a more-tender, more-flavored result.

Now, I only did this with beef and poultry, so for vegetarians and vegans, this might not be an ideal technique. However, as more and more vegan products are developed to mimic meat, this method may well have applications to different dietary preferences.

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There was something truly wonderful about moving a zip-seal bag from the freezer to the fridge in the evening, allowing it to defrost overnight and grilling it for dinner the following day, accompanied by corn from the farm stand and a simply tossed salad, or maybe some bread and purchased cole slaw. No stress for the cook, but a delicious, flavorful meal.

Even when grilling season ends (which for some people is never) this technique can be easily adapted to the broiler, a skillet or a sheet pan roasted at a high temperature. One pro tip that really helped — be sure to label the bags in detail: “1.5 lb flank steak w soy, ginger and sesame” or “4 chicken cutlets in garlic lemon dressing.” This will ensure that you defrost the right amount for your group and avoid waste.


Soy-Ginger Flank Steak

Serves 4

⅓ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
⅓ cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon hot sauce such as Sriracha (optional)
1½ pounds flank steak

In a large zip-seal bag, mix all the ingredients. Make sure the steak is thoroughly coated.

Label the bag clearly and lay it flat in the freezer. The night before you wish to serve this, place the flank steak in the refrigerator to defrost overnight.

Bring the steak to room temperature before grilling. Heat your grill to medium-high, and place the steak on it, cooking for about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove the steak from the grill, cover it with foil and let it rest for 3 minutes. Slice the meat thinly across the grain on a diagonal.

Beer Barbecue Turkey

Serves 4

I prefer turkey breasts, but many people prefer dark meat as having more flavor and less of a risk of drying out. Regardless of which cut you choose, slice them horizontally across to about ¼-inch to ½-inch thickness — or have your butcher prepare them as scaloppini.

Cooking times will vary pending the thickness of the pieces, so be sure to check them for doneness before serving.

1½ pounds boneless turkey, sliced thinly
½ bottle or can beer (any type)
½ cup your favorite barbecue sauce

Mix all the ingredients in a zip-seal bag. Be sure the turkey pieces are thoroughly coated.

Label the bag clearly and lay it flat in the freezer. The night before you wish to serve it, place the bag in the fridge and allow it to defrost overnight.

Bring the turkey to room temperature, and heat your grill to medium-high. Grill the turkey for about 4 minutes per side until cooked through. Place it on a plate, cover it with foil and allow it to rest for several minutes.

Lemon-Garlic Chicken

Serves 4

Many recipes in this style call for a marinade of yogurt or buttermilk, but that is a no-no for kosher diners. Mayonnaise is an excellent substitute; the vinegar it contains breaks the meat down a bit in the same way the yogurt and buttermilk does, delivering a tender, flavorful result.

I prefer boneless chicken breasts, but you can certainly use bone-in pieces; simply adjust the cooking time accordingly. Large bone-in breasts and thighs will take about 30 minutes, give or take, and will mostly need indirect heat after the initial sear.

1½ pounds boneless chicken, cut thinly
½ cup mayonnaise
Juice of 2 lemons
3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon oregano
Generous amount salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a zip-seal bag. Be sure the chicken pieces are thoroughly coated.

Label the bag clearly and lay it flat in the freezer. The night before you wish to serve it, place the bag in the fridge and allow it to defrost overnight.

Bring the chicken to room temperature, and heat your grill to medium-high. Grill the turkey for about 4 minutes per side until cooked through. Place it on a plate, cover it with foil and allow it to rest for several minutes.

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