The Perfect Steak Marinade

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by Amber on September 24, 2010

When you’re from Texas, you feel a certain responsibility to how you treat beef. Texas is cattle country, first and foremost, from the panhandle to the southernmost tip. Even the Ford Motor Company knows how seriously we take our cattle ranching – they developed the King Ranch Edition Ford F150 for the largest cattle ranch in Texas, to their specifications. The truck became so popular they started selling the King Ranch edition to the general public.

Our barbecue is all beef based (brisket, ribs, and pulled meat sandwiches), and when it comes to grilling a steak, well, there’s a certain kind of reverence paid. No self respecting Texan would char a steak into well-done territory. In fact, I used to work with a guy who’d tell a waitress, “Put it on the grill, count to 5. Flip it, count to 5 and then BRING IT TO ME. Anything longer than that and you’re starting over.”

The reason for this is that the longer you cook beef meant for steaks, the more inherent flavor you lose. Beef is aged for a reason. Beef is cut the way it is cut for a reason. It’s all meant to enhance the natural flavor of the meat. As far as many a Texan is concerned, the only garnish a good steak needs is salt and pepper. Forget the A-1, forget the pepper sauce.

Now I, I am definitely of that mind. My favorite way to have a steak is marinated in what I’ll describe below, cooked to medium rare, and then sprinkled with a good kosher salt. If the meat is aged right, and the cut is good, there is absolutely no reason to add anything else. For me, it’d be gilding the lily – an unnecessary, bordering on offensive, thing to do.

The story can be different, however, if you don’t have a good cut of meat. Steaks should be from the loin or sirloin. This is where all the tenderest cuts lie. If you don’t have a tenderloin, t-bone, porterhouse, or strip steak in front of you, then you’re better off accentuating that steak with a good pan sauce, like the one TickledRed makes. Steak sauce made with whiskey? Totally approved.

I’ve been grilling steaks since about the age of 10, because my Dad always cooked mine too long. I took over the grill, and never looked back. Along the way, I’ve learned that a good, simple marinade, left to permeate the meat for at least an hour, is the secret to a perfect piece of beef, every time. Someone once told me that the steak I made them was the “best steak ever in their life”. Now that, that was music to this Texan’s ears.

Keep it simple, and don’t cook to well done. You’ll enjoy steak a lot more. But I promise not to judge – let me know how you like your steak cooked. Have you used marinade before or do you just throw it on the grill with spices?

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