Bag-Eating Vodka Marinade


This is a Nigella recipe that I’ve tweaked to correspond with the ingredients that I have on hand. My herb garden is pitifully past its sell-by date, so I’m using dried herbs instead of fresh. Her recipe also suggests, and I say suggests because I think any good recipe should be adaptable and flexible … erm … oh yes, her recipe also suggests hand-crushed peppercorns. Forget that. I have course-ground pepper that I’ll use for it. These are times of penny-pinching austerity, and I make do with what I have rather than buying to the specifics of a recipe. And besides … It’s 8:15 in the morning, and I’m not up to pulverising anything by hand that’ll create bang-bang noises. To be honest, the strong smell of garlic is making my head all spinny-whinny, which is probably because I haven’t eaten breakfast yet and here I am crushing and chopping 4 plump garlic cloves.

So I pop all the herbs, the olive oil, the pepper and salt, and the vodka into a Tesco Strong Freezer Bag. Then I slap two rump steaks into the mix, massage it all about a bit, and then seal up the bag. For safety, I put the bag into a baking dish just in case it leaks. Pfffffft….

Within 30-minutes, the bag has lost all control and it’s incontinent — the liquid’s dribbling out all over the baking dish. So I roll up my sleeves and dip my hands into this oily, smelly concoction, and transfer the steaks and escaped marinade into a new freezer bag. Massage, massage, seal, and back on to the baking dish for safety.

Thirty-minutes later the bag’s sprung a leak again. Is it the vodka that’s disintegrating the plastic bag?

Not to be out-witted by a plastic bag, I tried a different sort. Heavy-duty. Made in America. Ziploc. Voilà . No leaks. I suppose the lesson here is don’t marinate meat in a plastic bag without the security of a bowl behind it….unless you want a big, green, smelly mess.

A few thoughts after-the-fact: We just finished dinner, and we both agreed that this one is well worth doing again in the future. I strained the marinade while the steaks finished cooking  and then topped up the quantity with beef broth to about one cup, and finished it off by thickening it with some flour. If you use the marinade as the sauce base, let it boil a bit to evaporate the alcohol in the vodka. Don’t be put off by the flavour of the sauce when you taste it from the pan – when it’s poured over the beef, it’s suddenly a perfect companion.

This is a surpringly good and, quite frankly, an ingenious marinade.

Almost Nigella’s Vodka Marinade for Beef Steak

Combine the following ingredients in a heavy-duty plastic bag with a sealable top (or a twist-tie), and marinate beef or pork.

1/2 tablespoon table salt
4 large cloves of garlic, crushed and finely diced
1 spring onion, sliced
1 tablespoon coursely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
60ml olive oil
60ml vodka

Allow the meat to marinate overnight or 4-hour at (a cool) room temperature. Nigella’s original recipe suggests 2-3 days in the fridge. My fridge is too small and too stuffed to dedicate a baking dish to that much space for so long. I’m sure that Nigella’s method is superior, and if you’d like the real thing, here’s the URL for her recipe at her website


12 Comments Add yours

  1. teawithhazel says:

    i’ve seen nigella bagging things in marinade but so far i’ve never tried her method but it certainly sounds good from your description..:)

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      It really is delicious. Mr. Misk says all the alcohol burnt off but I’m not convinced.

  2. Looks good. I’d enjoy trying something like this next time I’ve got some good steak in the fridge. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Hi Dimitri! Thank you for stopping by for read! It’s very yummy, and I think you’ll find it quite tasty.

  3. ceciliag says:

    the bag is good, but i always set it in a bowl as well.. I might try this one (I like vodka!) , we are grilling tomorrow. I will try it then. c

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      It’s totally yummy, but I woke with a banging headache. See my comment below with the link.

  4. Misk Cooks says:

    I woke up with a headache this morning. Now I don’t often drink. Actually almost never. Now I’m wondering if I have a hangover! This article at seems to suggest so.

    Is this your understanding, too? I thought simmering the sauce for several minutes would burn-off the alcohol…

  5. Joanna says:

    If the alcohol has soaked into the meat during the marinade process then your link would suggest that it is retained in the meat, and under 15 mins cooking time still leaves 40%. So it does sound like it, surprising, if that chart is right of course – hope you’ve recovered 🙂

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Strange, eh? Mr. Misk is still convinced that the alcohol burnt off. His head was fine, and he didn’t feel all wonky. I sure did though. I can only think that it’s the vodka, and I had a hangover. I hardly ever drink, so when I do I really feel it. It was sure delicious though!

  6. Too funny (maybe not:) I’d never thought of a bag unzipping its’ contents all over my fridge. I’ll have to try this recipe out!

  7. Misk Cooks says:

    Hi, and welcome! I suspect that the vodka weakened the plastic, and it just gave out at the seam. When I used a heavy-duty proper Ziploc bag from American, it didn’t leak.

    1. I bet you’re right… and correct about the hangover as well;)

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