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Easy Tips and Tricks for Punching up the Flavor or your Favorite Cut of Steak
If you took one glance at the title of this most recent addition to Steak University’s attempt at imparting beefy knowledge and felt just a teensy bit apprehensive, well never fear! Marinades are a hot topic among steak enthusiasts and even the pros come down on both sides of the fence. So, what do you, home chef aficionado in search of guidance, need to know about marinating steak and adding bold flavors to your already excellent gourmet cuts of beef? Pull up a seat and break out your notepad, it’s time for some marinad-ucation.
Let’s Scratch the Surface
One of the most important things you need to know when it comes to how to marinate steak is that whatever your flavor profile or top super-secret concoction of choice, just throwing your steak into a bowl of saucy goodness won’t do more than flavor the outside skin, and could do a lot of harm depending on your cooking profile. Steaks, especially premium steaks such as those found at the Chicago Steak Company, are nearly 75% liquid, which means there is already quite a bit of moisture action going on. It’s going to be hard to get a piece of tender beef to take up even more liquid, even when submersed.
When it comes to the “more harm” aspect, attempting to cook a steak wet with marinade can lead to steamed steak in a hurry as the liquid evaporates in the hot pan. If your steak marinade sauce has an excess of sugar, cooking steak over a high heat can lead to an unappetizing burned sugar taste to your meat. The flavor profile isn’t nearly the same as a good charred crust, trust us.
How to Marinate Steak
Now don’t get us wrong, marinating a steak can impart an interesting, unique and exceptionally tasty flavor profile. The best way to marinate steak, however, isn’t by throwing it into a bowl of goop and hoping for the best. Since flavor doesn’t typically penetrate past the surface, try injection of your marinade with a meat injector. Crosshatching, or cutting shallow lines, into the surface of your steak will also allow for additional penetration of flavor by creating more surface area for your marinade to adhere to.
A few tips for how to marinate steaks. First, the best steak marinades have a hefty amount of salt. Salt molecules are much smaller than water molecules (hey, look, science) and can therefore penetrate even one of our juicy gourmet steaks, imparting additional flavor. Next, your meat should ideally be allowed to soak in its steak marinade bath in the refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours. This allows for thorough penetration into the meat. Finally, if you want that great crust, and to avoid steamy, tough and unappealing steak, be sure to blot off excess steak marinade sauce before cooking, or allow the steak to dry and come to room temperature prior to throwing on the grill or pan.
Steak Marinade Recipes
We’ve covered the basics. Let’s get down to recipes. A marinade can really be anything that suits your particular palate. From big and bold spicy flavors to French influenced herbs and butter, the key qualities of a good marinade are that it entices the taste buds and compliments the earthy, gamey and mildly smoky flavor of a well-cooked steak. With that being said, at Steak University we have a few go-to favorites and we’ve listed the ingredients below. Quantities are to taste, but remember our common principles for steak marinating. 6-24 hours, refrigerated and then allowed to dry so that a crust can form when cooking. Bake, roast or grill per your favorite method and, most importantly, enjoy.
• Fresh Ground Black Pepper (freshly ground is key to a good peppery flavor)
• Fresh Squeezed Lemon or Lime Juice
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Steak Marinade
• Balsamic Vinegar
• Onion Powder
• Garlic Powder
• Avocado Oil (Olive Oil will work as a substitute)