My new Reveo Marivac marinading machine may explain a lot about how restaurants so often serve up fish and chicken that’s remarkably moist and tender. I suspect they use a preparation device something like this one, whose secret is marinading in a vacuum. With that technique, the marinading action of 10 to 20 minutes produces an equivalent effect of hours using normal methods. The brief time involved also translates to no particular need to plan ahead.
The device, a product of Eastman Outdoors, Inc., consists of a base with the controls on one side and a rotating bed on the other, and a plastic drum with a capacity for a small whole chicken. The drum measures 7.5 inches across and is 8.5″ deep. The use of it is as simplified as can be. You can mix your favorite marinade combos in a measuring cup and then pour it into the drum, or pour the ingredients directly into the drum and then swirl them around so that they blend. Then, just add your fresh fish, chicken filet or whole bird, steak or whatever and close it up with the special lid.
The lid has a rubber gasket for an air-tight fit, and a special valve in the center. The valve handle has two positions which, basically, are open and closed. In the very center of it is a fitting for the vacuum connector, which is what Reveo calls the “Marivac.” With the handle in the open position, you merely slide the connector, which comes at the end of a plastic tube, all the way down into it and press the Marivac switch. A moment later the vacuum pump goes to work and stops automatically when it’s done. There is now a vacuum in the drum which contains your meal and its marinade.
You now turn the valve handle to the closed position to lock in the vacuum (most important!), remove the connector, and lay the drum on its side on top of the drive wheels to the right. Different meats (and other possible side dishes) require different times, and a table in the instruction manual lists the guidelines. It varies from 10 minutes for ground meats, most firm fish and fruits or vegetables, to 20 minutes for chicken, beef, lamb, pork and wild game. Shellfish is special with only a 5 minute need.
In addition to trying favorite marinade combos (lemon, wine, wine vinegar, garlic, olive oil, etc. for me), Rexeo offers several very exciting-sounding powder bases, like “Steamin’ Samurai,” “LemoNation Lemon Pepper,” “Rasta Riot Jamaican Jerk,” and “Italian Renaissauce.” I just ordered the kit that include all of these for further experimentation. The manual also includes recipe suggestions employing their bases, which are scrumptious sounding things like Jamaican Pork Chops, Bourbon BBQ Ribs, French Onion Prime Rib and Raspberry Chipotle Fajitas, to name just a few. Mmmm, given what I’ve aleady done on my own, I just can’t wait.
Besides my usual combos, I’ve tried doing potatoes (paprika, garlic) which, after a few minutes in the machine are baked. I came out with better potatoes than I’ve ever managed to make before.
But, besides the depth of the flavors, the biggest surprise and the most important aspect of the process is the through and through moistness of the meat. Whatever I do, the result is tender and juicy in every part, including when I finish the leftovers the following day. My theory is that the vacuum suffuses the marinade effect into every cell of the meat. I find, also, that it pays to use the best quality everything – in the meat (always fresh fish, angus beef) as well as in the ingredients (my best wine, not a “cooking” wine). And, at the rate I’m going, it’ll be months before I repeat one formula for my newfound kitchen friend. It may not be an “instant” marinader, but a 20 minute meat marinader is quite sufficient for this time-challenged bachelor.
As a bachelor and a demanding critic of food I realize my own simple approach to cooking is nothing special. I never really thought of it as adequate to invite a guest over for dinner, but now I actually have done it… once, so far. After her first bite she just stared at me. The evening, shall I say, was a success, and she went away with the contact info to buy a Reveo for herself. What a great gal for not expecting one as a gift even though, at $199, it would make a truly nifty one. Well, maybe for her birthday.