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How To Marinate Steak

Most beef cuts benefit significantly from being marinated as it adds flavor and helps to tenderize the meat. It is important to be cautious about the quantity of each ingredient used in the marinade to enhance the taste without overwhelming the steak. Using too much can overpower the taste of steak leaving you with a nasty flavor of strongly-scented ingredients such as lemon. A good steak does not have to be tough, dry, or tasteless since the juicy, bold flavors are all enhanced by the marinade. This article discusses how to marinate steak and protect the beef against overcooking.

Key Ingredients of a Steak Marinade

  • Acid
Traditional barbecue dry aged fillet steak with herb and spice marinated as closeup

Red wine vinegar, balsamic, and lemon can help tenderize tough cuts of beef. The rich flavor produced from grilling and the salinity of a well-seasoned steak is countered by the sharp flavors of the acids. The natural sugars packed in vinegar are said to caramelize the steak and make great grill marks.

  • Fat

Although you can use any oil for your marinade, professional chefs recommend olive oil because of its rich flavor and quality. Another benefit of using olive oil is that it has a lower smoke point than peanut or avocado oil, it adds flavor, and prevents the steak from sticking on the grill.

  • Salt

Never skimp on salt as it helps to season the steak, tenderize it, and aid in moisture retention. It allows water-soluble flavors to penetrate the tissues and restructures the protein in the steak to create gaps of moisture. This helps to loosen the muscle fibers, making it easier to chew.

  • Flavor Enhancers

You can use many types of flavor enhancers to marinate steak. This is the place to make your recipe unique from others as it determines the overall taste. Some of the go-to flavor enhancers include mustard, ground cloves of garlic, and some green onions.

The Process

  • Prepare the Marinade

For this step, you need to have a blender to mix up the ingredients or use a large bowl and a whisk instead. Pour 1/3 of a cup of soy sauce then add 1/2 a cup of olive oil in the blender. Squeeze a fresh lemon to make a third of a cup of lemon juice. You can add flavor enhancers such as one and a half tablespoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of dried minced garlic, and 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce.

For an extra kick of flavor, add ½ tablespoons of dried parsley flakes, 3 tablespoons of dried basil, and a teaspoon of brown white pepper. Blend on high speed for about 30 seconds or until this marinate is properly mixed.

  • Pour the Marinade Over the Steak

Place the steak in a large bowl and gently pour the marinade all over the steak. Turn it several times to coat the meat well and balance the flavor on both sides. Cover the steak and refrigerate for about 6 to 8 hours to allow the ingredients to work their way through tough muscle fibers. This helps to tenderize the steak and keep the flavors in.

  • Cook the Steak

Now that your marinade is ready, discard the leftovers and prepare your steak to your liking. If you choose to grill the steak, then you need to remove it from the marinade and pat dry. The best way to cook your steak is to grill it over high and medium heat. Heat half of the steak on high, direct heat and the other half on medium, direct heat. Allow the steak to cook for 2 minutes per side on high heat until it becomes brown, burnished, and the grill marks start to appear. Afterward, shift the steak to medium heat to continue cooking until the desired doneness.

Marinade Safety

Thaw the steak slowly in a refrigerator and avoid cooking partially frozen steak as it could cook unevenly. There are various opinions on how to baste the steak with its marinade. If you want to stay on the side of caution, use extra marinade that was reserved ahead of time as a baste while cooking. Lastly, if you intend to cook your steak over high heat, consider using high-heat oils. Experienced chefs recommend using olive oil because it has a lower smoke point than avocado oil.

It only requires a few special considerations to marinate a steak. You need to know which cuts of steak that are best to marinate for the grill as well as the ratio of ingredients that enhance flavor and promote easy cooking. As long as you follow these steps carefully, you can take the guesswork out of marinating steaks and reward your efforts with a tender, juicy cut of beef.

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