Back in the day, just after we were married, I joined several recipe Yahoo groups (I’m dating myself here…). One lead to another and I ended up on the Friendly-Freezer Yahoo Group. (The group isn’t every active…you can see it’s decline with the rise of Facebook but it is a *treasure trove* of archived information on freezer cooking, if you’re interested.) What a gold mine it was for myself as a newly-married person in charge of my own kitchen! Far beyond just learning about freezing foods, I learned so much about cooking there. I have fond memories of so many of the ladies who unknowingly mentored me.
When I started at the group, I had never done more freezer cooking than simply cooking ground beef & freezing it. My first real foray into freezer cooking, then, was “dump chicken”. Divide my chicken into freezer bags, dump in marinades/seasonings & freeze? Easy! I couldn’t believe I had never heard this idea before. As spring & summer approached, dump chicken became a staple in our home. Having a main dish ready to go gave me time to learn how to cook side dishes, breads & desserts. My summer go-to meal of grilled meat + salad and/or fruit + a grain was born Summer 2000.
In those days, I kept my marinades to just a few ingredients. Other dump marinades consisted of mostly store-bought marinades with a touch of my own spin. I ventured out beyond chicken to include beef & pork and, slowly, my confidence grew. The complexity of my “dumps” have grown over the years—I’m not afraid of recipes with more than a few ingredients, I very rarely use store-bought marinades. But this staple remains in my freezer & will populate many summer meals.
In the early days of spring, I try to schedule at least one of our favorite summer meals each week. As I’m making the dish for that week, I make 2-4 more. It takes little more time to add the marinade ingredients to 5 bags than it does to one bag. By the end of April, I have enough in my freezer for 1-2 nights each week of the summer!
Not only are dump recipes quick & easy, they are incredibly flexible (a key in my kitchen!). Great deal on chicken legs? Use 6-8 of those instead. Have pork chops or steaks to use? No problem. Buy your chicken frozen? Just divide the frozen pieces up, add the marinade & they will marinate as they thaw. Out of gas on your grill? Bake, stove-top or griddle will come to your rescue!
To freezer bags (quart for 2-4 servings, gallon size for more), I add your meat and marinade ingredients, squish out the air & seal, then toss the bag around to coat. Freeze flat, thaw overnight or 6-8 hours in the fridge & then cook as desired.
Here are a few of our favorite & simplest dump recipes. I hesitate to even call them recipes because they are so simple & straight-forward!
To 4-6 chicken breasts (or 1-1.5 pound of your favorite chicken part or other meat), add:
1) Store-bought Italian dressing or your favorite recipe + a teaspoon of hot sauce + the juice of 1 lemon (or bottled juice equivalent)
2) 10-12 ounces salsa + 1 packet (or equivalent homemade) taco seasoning (this is also a favorite crock-pot recipe for shredded taco chicken)
3) 2-4 cloves garlic + 1/4 cup oil + 1 tablespoon dried parsley + 2-4 tablespoons lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
4) 1 packet dry ranch dressing + 1/2 cup oil + 1 teaspoon lemon juice + 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary + 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
5) 1/2 cup whiskey + 1/2 cup brown sugar + 2-3 cloves garlic + 1/4 cup oil + 2-3 teaspoons black pepper (this one is especially good on beef or pork)
I haven’t found a chicken marinade recipe can’t be frozen. As long as isn’t dairy-based, you should be able to use any of your family’s favorite marinades to freeze for a quick dinner this summer.
Be sure to check back as I post other summer meals. I am continuing this series on my channel, so head over there, as well.