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Should I Marinade a High Quality Cut of Beef?

Summer is almost a reality – and here in New Jersey, it feels like we’ve been waiting a long time for it! But the cold and snow makes warmer months all the more enjoyable, and there’s one activity that everybody is looking forward to: Cooking and grilling outdoors.

That’s right – it’s time to open your favorite recipe app, head to the store, and prepare for your next great summer meal. Steak is always going to be a top contender, and you might even head to your local butcher for some really special cuts of beef.

The question is, how should you prepare that high quality piece of steak? Marinades are popular, and are commonly used for meat and poultry of all kinds. We’ve all had a marinated steak on the grill at some point, and most of us have also visited a high-end steakhouse and enjoy a professionally prepared cut of beef.

Which experience was better? In other words, should you marinate your summer steak or not? And if not, how should you prepare it?

There really isn’t a hard and fast answer to these questions, but there are a few important things to note.

First, steakhouse chefs generally do not use marinade to prepare steak. If you ask why, you’ll hear a nearly unanimous answer: Marinade merely covers up the beautiful nature flavor of the steak. Why would anybody want to do that, especially with a high quality cut of beef? A little rock salt is the only thing your average steakhouse chef will use. That way, the full flavor profile of the steak is brought out in full splendor.

But let’s be honest, not all steak is super-high quality. There are plenty of mediocre steaks out there, and using a nice marinade can actually enhance or improve the flavor and tenderness in some cases.

If you’re wondering whether to marinade steak at home, there are couple of things you can do. The next time you visit a quality steakhouse, ask whether the chef uses any marinades, and what his or her opinion may be in terms of marinating high quality steak. You can do the same thing when you buy steak from the butcher, and take advice from someone who deals with steak every day.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to a personal preference. Despite the fact that steakhouse chefs generally don’t like the idea of using marinades, there are undoubtedly people out there who prefer the taste of a nice marinade, and like to experiment with the different flavors and mixtures available.

Our advice? Buy two high quality steaks of the exact same type, from the same source. Prepare one using marinade, and the other without. Then you can decide for yourself!

Taking a cue from your local steakhouse

If you really love steak, you probably don’t always want to have it in a restaurant. There’s something very satisfying about mixing it up once in awhile and grilling your own steak, after carefully choosing a fine quality cut from your local market or butcher. Experimenting with marinades is a worthwhile pursuit – but more often than not, people have to be convinced not to use marinades, and use a more basic method to bring out the full flavor profile of the meat. Either way, enjoy your home-grilled steak this summer!

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