Sometimes, it’s all in the sauce. Sure, there’s nothing better than the perfectly cooked steak, but the key is a top-notch steak is perfecting the homemade marinade. Before you head into the kitchen, here are Chef Giuseppe’s top tips for how to marinate a steak:
Pick The Right Steak
Before we can focus on how to marinate a steak, we have to think about the steak itself. A good steak starts at the butcher’s counter. Prime cuts of steak like porterhouse, rib eye, filet mignon, and New York strip should never be marinated. Instead, they require simply salt, pepper and heat—that’s it! When marinating, opt for hanger steak, skirt steak, flank steak, London broil, or tri-tip.
Salt + Fat + Acid
A standard marinade begins with three components: salt, fat, and acid. Salt is crucial in a marinade. When used properly, it’s what ultimately brings all the flavors to the table and makes other tastes shine. A good rule of thumb is to use about ¾ to 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat.
Fat is important because it adds flavor to your steak and prevents the meat from sticking to the cooking surface. We usually go with olive oil but any type of oil can be used—think peanut, sesame, avocado, or grapeseed. Just remember, the oil you choose should be liquid at room temperature so it can blend well with the other ingredients of your marinade. Don’t go too heavy on the fat, especially if you plan on grilling as the excess will cause the flame to flare up.
Salt might be the star of a good marinade, but it needs a supporting actor in acid. Acid allows flavors to pop and helps to tenderize the meat. Lemon, lime and, vinegars fall into this category.
Up until now, your marinade is pretty standard. The flavor you add is what will give your marinade it’s personality and the world is your oyster (we can’t pass up a food pun!). We like to experiment with mustard, garlic, scallions, herbs, chiles, ginger, sesame, and even coffee. Don’t get too carried away here, sometimes simplicity is the best route. When we’re putting together a quick marinade, we like to do a quick scan of our fridge to take stock of what we have and tend to add flavor in the form of herbs.
Now that you’ve learned how to marinate a steak, give our chimichurri-inspired steak recipe a try:
Chimichurri-Inspired Steak Marinade
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 2 limes
3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
herbs, roughly chopped (parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary—you can choose one or use them all)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 pounds skirt steak
1. Add all the ingredients except the steak to a bowl or a large ziplock bag. Stir or shake to combine.
2. Add steak and toss to fully coat. Place in the fridge for at least an hour. The longer the steak sits, the more flavorful it will be. You can marinate your steak up to two days ahead of time.
3. When ready to cook, remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry. Discard the marinade.
4. Grill or sear the steak at a high temperature so it develops a nice charred crust. Use a meat thermometer to cook to your desired doneness.
Next time someone asks you how to marinate a steak, you’ll be a pro! Happy cooking.
Story contributed by Plated Recipe Developer Giuseppe Iacopelli.
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