The right marinade complements the flavor of a good steak, or improves the flavor and texture of a tougher cut. Soaking in the marinating liquid tenderizes the meat while infusing it with the flavors of the marinade. Marinating before you freeze and store the steaks saves time later, since the meat can marinate as it thaws.
Pump Up the Flavor
A basic steak marinade contains an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar, which tenderizes the steak. It also contains a variety of seasonings and sauces that add flavor. These include dried herbs as spices, such as thyme, peppercorns and garlic; and also condiments like soy sauce, honey or horseradish. A quality, well-marbled steak contains enough fat that it doesn't require oil in the marinade. If you must add oil for a lean cut of steak, add it to the marinade after you begin thawing the steak for use. Oil may not freeze completely, which can shorten the storage life of the steaks.
Select freezer-safe, leak-proof containers or bags for marinating the steaks in the freezer. Place the meat in the container or bag, then add enough marinade to cover. If you use freezer bags, push out as much air as possible before sealing closed. Double-bagging helps prevent messy leaks during freezing or thawing. Any meat exposed to air is more likely to suffer freezer burn, which ruins the flavor and texture of the steak.
The Big Freeze
Although a fresh steak can store well for six to 12 months in a 0 degree Fahrenheit freezer, mixing it with the other ingredients in the marinade shortens storage life. The meat will likely stay safe with longer freezing, but its flavor and quality declines. Store the frozen steak for no more than three months, and preferably thaw and cook it within one month to ensure optimum flavor and a tender steak. A marinade doesn't prolong safe storage of the steak. Freeze it immediately after adding the marinade, or within three days of purchase.
Thaw It Right
Although bacteria won't grow in the freezer, they can quickly invade thawing meat. Defrost steak in the refrigerator, at temperatures below 40 F. Removing the steak from the freezer the day before you plan to cook it gives it plenty of time to thaw completely. The steak absorbs the marinade as it thaws, which tenderizes it and infuses it with flavor. Cook and serve the steaks within 24 to 48 hours of thawing. Dispose of the marinade after thawing; do not use it as a serving sauce because it may contain bacteria from the raw meat.
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