One could go on ad nauseum with respect to the great technological leaps of mankind in the later part of the 20th century. The computer and the ubiquitous internet, nuclear power, medical advances, television and a host of other noteworthy achievements no doubt top the list.
But my vote for the greatest invention of the 20th century? It goes to none other than the humble Ziploc storage bag. This thing is my unwavering kitchen companion, indispensable for marinating my meat, storing my pre-chopped and pre-measured ingredients, retaining left overs and even minor sous vide applications. You see, I marinate my target meats overnight before the big day and stor e the meat in the fridge in ziploc bags. This year’s Skirt Steak was awash in a sea of beer, onions, garlic and spices while the chicken thighs drowned in a bright red and citrusy achiote marinade. After this years Cinco De Mayo dust cleared, I had to figure out the back story on the bags.
The ziploc bag was originally invented by a gentleman named Borge Madsen on January 27th, 1951. Not much is known about him that I can find other than his patents were purchased by the Flexigrip company. Originally they produced plastic inserts in binders with a zipper closure to hold pencils, erasers, rulers and the like. In 1961, Flexigrip licensed a patented plastic zipper bag from a Japanese company, then licensed the rights out for the supermarket market to Dow Chemical in 1964. With a broader culinary vision in mind, Dow renamed the bags “Ziploc” bags and started selling these in 1968. In 1997, they sold the line to SC Johnson and company – and the rest is as they say – history.
Of course this brings my to my lovely Cinco De Mayo Marinades. These are my absolute
favorites and always a hit for Tex Mex flavors. I use two different ones – a beer based marinade for Skirt or Flank steak and an Achiote marinade for chicken (also great on fish).
Beer Marinade for Skirt Steak
You could use this marinade for just about anything, but I’d suggest you steak with robust meats like beef, lamb, pork or wild game. This will work for about 3 pounds of meat.
- 1 12oz Dark Beer (Like a Negro Modela)
- 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
- 1 Small Onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Lime Juice
- 5 Cloves garlic, Minced
- 1 Jalapeno, Minced (yep, seeds and all)
- 1/4 Cup Cilantro, Chopped
- 2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 TBS Pure chili powder (I use New Mexico)
- 1 Tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Tsp Cumin
- 1 Tsp Dried Oregano
Whisk all the ingredients together and marinate skirt steak in the fridge overnight in – you guessed it – ziploc bags. I always place the bag on a sheet pan just in case the thing springs a leak. Grill over a hot fire about 3/4 minutes a side and rest, covered for 5 minutes. Add salt and slice the steak thinly against the grain for fajitas.
Achiote paste is made from the “annato” seed and is very popular in the Yucatan. The brand I get is El Yucateco. You can find it in Latin Markets. It has a citrusy, mustardy scent with hints of iodine. It turns just about everything bright red, including your clothes. Great for around 4 pounds of chicken, lamb or fish. This marinade goes together in a snap. You use boiling water in it, so for food safety’s sake, please let it cool before you marinate anything.
- 2 TBS yellow mustard (plain ole ballpark mustard)
- 2 TBS Kosher Salt (I like the Diamond brand)
- 1 TBS Achiote paste
- 10 Cloves Garlic, peeled and mashed flat with the side of a chefs knife (you read right – 10)
- 5 Dried Guajillo Chiles, stemmed, membranes and seeds removed and torn into pieces.
- Juice of 1 Lime
- 1 Cup Boiling Water (Finally – a good chore for the microwave)
Place everything into the blender, food processor, Vita Prep or water machine you have and blend it until a smooth concoction is formed. Let the mixture cool. Pour over chicken or fish in the Ziploc and marinate (fish – maybe 4 hours, Chicken, lamb or meat overnight). Grill over a hot wood fire and enjoy.