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
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 http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/vodka-marinated-steak-111