Bloody Marys, Caesars and Micheladas are delicious, but they can be perplexing to one’s palate. “Is this a drink?” or “Is it a cold soup?” and “Where is the line between the two?” are just a few questions I sometimes ask myself when consuming something from this family of drinks. It’s not unpleasant — I like a beverage that keeps me on my toes. It also means that Bloody Marys and the like can perform double duty as delicious marinades.
Think about it: all the best flavours are there. We’ve got umami, acid, salt and just a little sugar. And then there is the alcohol. Alcohol is great not because it tenderises — you have the acid to thank for that — but because it helps disperse flavour and aroma. It can bond with both fat and water, allowing it to bring the good news of taste to every part of your meat.
Both tomato juice and Clamato are quite umami-forward, which works well with milder meats like chicken and pork, though Bloody Mary beef would probably be fun as hell. The rest of the ingredients are up to you. Just make a (very large) Bloody or Caesar however you usually would, but decrease the alcohol a little bit, as you don’t need a ton of vodka (or gin) to reap the benefits. I’m a big fan of pickle juice, prepared horseradish and Crystal hot sauce in my Caesars; but lime, Worcestershire sauce, Adobo sauce and literally anything else you like to put in your favourite savoury brunch drink will work.
For the pork chops above (there were six total), I used:
- 160mL of Clamato (one single-serving can)
- 120mL of pickle juice (My current favourite is Grillo’s)
- 80mL of vodka
- About 10 shakes of Crystal
I would have added horseradish too, but I was out. I mixed everything together, put the chops in a bag and poured the beverage in with them. I pan fried some at around the four hour mark, and they were nice — tender and juicy, though not insanely flavorful — but after an overnight hang in the fridge, the rest were perfect.
The umami from the Clamato really came through, and the pickle juice provided a pleasant hit of acid and a nice amount of garlic. As for the rest of the Mary-nade, I brought it to a boil for a minute, then whisked two tablespoons of butter with 3/4 cup of Bloody to make a sauce that was so good, I almost drank it. And all the while, my palate was pleasantly confused.