Cooking a steak might seem as simple as putting it on a flaming grill or in a sizzling pan, but there is a lot more prep work that goes into making the perfect steak meal than you may think.
First, you have to select the right cut of meat, then you have to determine how you want to cook it, what you want it to be served with, and what level of doneness you want the steak to reach when it’s finished. Another crucial step is deciding on the marinade you’ll have for the steak, but it isn’t as simple as just placing the meat into some sauce.
“Marinating a steak is done for many reasons, but the two main reasons people will marinate their steaks are for flavor and texture,” says Stephen Bukoff, Executive Chef at The Langham, Boston. “Once the marinade contacts the meat, it starts to break down the tissue, making the meat tender.”
Selecting a marinade is subjective and dependent upon the preferred flavor profiles of whoever will be eating the steak, but Bukoff says one of his favorite marinade recipes combines red wine vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, fresh garlic clove, shallot, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
“You would combine the liquids in a bowl, and then smash the garlic clove and julienne the white onion,” Bukoff says. “Add those to the bowl with the fresh herbs (stem and all), as well as the salt and pepper.”
Once the marinade has been put together, you can place the steak in a Ziploc bag and pour the marinade into the bag with the steak. After the marinade is added to the bag, seal it and place it in the refrigerator for no more than two hours, according to Bukoff, who prefers to leave it in the refrigerator for just one hour.
According to Bukoff, if the meat is left to marinate in the refrigerator for more than two hours, it will be too saturated with the flavor of the marinade, which will take away from the natural flavor of the steak.
“Marinades are a fun way to play with flavors. You can go tropical with fruits, umami with soy, or herbaceous with fresh herbs and oil,” Bukoff says. “Overall, you can achieve a deeper flavor and tenderness when you use marinades.”
He adds that once the meat is done marinating, the steak can be cooked in whichever way you want, although Bukoff prefers to use a grill.
“You can cook it really any way you want, but typically I would use a grill as I like the high temperature and charcoal crust,” Bukoff says. “But you can sear and roast as well.”