The Sunday Recipe(s): Making Marinades and Dressings


Making Dressings and Marinades

When it comes to making a marinade or dressing, it’s pretty simple once you know the ratios involved. Anyone who has ever used the Good Seasons Italian dressing packets on a regular basis knows you put ¼ cup of vinegar in (white, cider, red wine, champagne – it’s all good) then add 3 tablespoons of water, pour the packet in and give it a swirl to reconstitute the spices, then add ½ cup of oil. (I use light olive oil.)

You can switch out the vinegar and put in lemon to make a pretty good lemon chicken in the slow cooker. (In fact, I put a stick of butter instead of the oil for the slow cooker.) I’ve also used it to marinate chicken for the grill. (Always marinate for three days in the fridge, for maximum flavor.)

I was trying to reduce my intake of table salt so I started experimenting with using a couple tablespoons of Tastefully Simple’s Garlic Garlic seasoning instead of the dressing packet. I put 2 tablespoons of water in a cup with the seasonings and let that reconstitute for an hour before adding ¼ cup lemon juice and ½ cup light olive oil. It turned out fantastic!

Here’s another great trick. If you have a stick blender, use that puppy to blend the marinade before putting it on the chicken, it keeps the marinade on the chicken while it’s sitting in the fridge instead of sloughing off so that it sits in a pool and you have to flip the container.

Now, if you don’t have the, somewhat expensive, Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic blend, what can you use? I found a DIY blend that is supposed to simulate Garlic Garlic here —

The other dressing and marinade I love to use is balsamic. The key here is getting a balsamic vinegar you really like. Basically, I’ve heard you get what you pay for when it comes to balsamic because aging is the key and the older it is, the more flavor it has. Personally, I love the fruit blended ones. We’re lucky in the Southern Tier of New York to have Crystal City Olive Oil which offers many wonderful balsamic vinegar flavors – I particularly enjoy their raspberry or cherry balsamic. It’s not cheap, but a little bit goes a long way.

To make a quick dressing for a salad, I take 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons of the balsamic in a small container, like a Tupperware midge, then fill to the first line with light olive oil, about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Add a few grinds of sea salt and half a dozen grinds of fresh black pepper. Cover and shake well. (I shake it again just before I put it on the salad.)

In larger quantities, this makes a fantastic marinade for steak. I use a thick, strong balsamic so I use 1 part balsamic vinegar to 3 parts oil. You don’t have to be perfectly exact, and you don’t need a lot to marinade a couple steaks. Again, for me, marinating for 3 days is optimum.

Go with the ratio and try some different combinations of vinegars or acidic fruit juices and butter or olive  oil, then add some herbs, based on what you like. I’m trying a Greek marinade on chicken this weekend. I’m sure it will taste fine and maybe I’ll tweak it later on.

And, I fell down a rabbit hole when I went to the Crystal City Olive Oil web site. They have recipes. You should definitely check those out, and, if you can’t find a good balsamic vinegar near you, they do offer shipping.

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