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Can I freeze marinated chicken thighs?

Specifically this recipe: http://cooking.nytimes...

I want ideally to put the chicken in the marinade on Thursday night, throw it in the freezer, pack it for camping, and thaw and cook over a fire Saturday night. Does freezing stop the marinating process? I know that chicken can get mushy if it's over-marinated. Thanks!!

asked by UhOhSarah over 2 years ago

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8 answers 8067 views
Susan W
Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 2 years ago

I do it all the time. Freezing slows the marinade down a lot and then as it thaws, the marinade does its work. I do, however use very little acid, if any, in my marinades. If you use acid, I'd cut back a little.

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Sean R
added over 2 years ago

I would lobby for the inclusion of acid in its original proportions!

Sourness might be THE most common taste that is missing when something tastes "underseasoned". American-style cooking tends to lack acid compared to cuisines around the world. It's a really important contrast. The tanginess wakes up your taste buds and gets you salivating (which will apply some tenderizers of your own that hang out in....ahem....the mouth region.) ;D

Susan W
Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 2 years ago

Sean, I don't use acid in most marinades because I don't like the texture it gives the surface of meats. For instance, I have some chicken breast marinating overnight, but I use lemon zest, not lemon juice. It's how I prefer to marinate meat. I use plenty of acid when needed in other phases of recipes. This theory is supported by Kenji at Serious Eats and by Faith at the Kitchn.

UhOhSarah
added over 2 years ago

I think maybe I'll minimize the lemon in the marinating stage and then throw lemon slices in when I cook it. I'm satisfied with that plan. Thanks all!

Sean R
added over 2 years ago

I think that makes a lot of sense for this particular recipe since it doesn't call for much liquid, only 2 lemons of juice and a 1/2 c. of olive oil.

I don't know about cutting down on acid in all marinades since proportions vary widely, but totally understand that it's personal preference!

Sean R
added over 2 years ago

Also, Sarah, that recipe looks pretty fab. I'm very excited for your (camping?) food!

UhOhSarah
added over 2 years ago

It is a fantastic recipe - i recommend it! Tastes exactly like shawarma from a sketchy street cart :) I make it all the time at home, just never a few days ahead before.

Sean R
added over 2 years ago

Freezing is absolutely fine!

The mushiness you're describing is attributed to meat tenderizers (like pineapple or papaya enzymes) being in contact with the proteins for too long a time. They will either not interact with the proteins when frozen: at all or at nearly the same rate. I've certainly never had a problem with freezing meat with marinades using citrus juice or vinegar. Citrus and acetic acid are quite weak and rarely cause a problem (unless you leave the meat for ages or use a ton of acid, neither of which sound like good eats).

Really, freezing meat with a marinade is helpful since the ice crystals will force the tissue apart and make more passages for your marinade. Yum yum yum!

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