Monday, June 20, 2011

Steak Marinades: Recipes and Tips

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and we grilled marinated steaks for a special dinner. It was some of the most tender, flavorful steak that I had had in a long time! Not only did we select a tender cut of meat, we also soaked the steaks in a Jack Daniels marinade for about two hours before cooking them. Yum!

If you’ve marinated steaks before, you know how delicious they can be. If you haven’t, you might want to consider it next time you’re planning an outdoor cookout! I’m posting some favorite marinade recipes at the end of this post, which I highly recommend. But first, I thought it would be helpful to post some of the basics about marinating.

A marinade is a seasoned liquid mixture used to add the flavor to meats soaked in it. Many times, marinades also help tenderize beef, especially less-expensive or leaner cuts of meat like round, chuck and flank steaks.

Cuts from the loin (Porterhouse, t-bone, sirloin, Delmonico, New York strip, rump steak, tenderloin) are already very tender. However, you may still want to marinade them to add flavor.

A marinade can be any seasoned liquid, but typically it’s a brine or an oil and alcohol (typically wine) mixture with herbs added for flavor. If a marinade is meant to tenderize meat, it will have an acidic ingredient of some type in it. That could be pineapple or lemon juice, vinegar or wine. As the meat cooks, the alcohol evaporates, while the proteins are hydrolyzed, creating a tendering effect on the muscle tissues.

To marinate your steaks, put them in a glass dish (with a cover) or a large ziplock freezer bag. Pour in the marinade, and put the meat in the refrigerator. Turn the steaks occasionally during marinating so that all sides are equally exposed to marinade. If you are using a tender cut of meat and are only marinating for flavor, marinate for 15 minutes to 2 hours. If you’re using a lean cut of meat and also want to tenderize, marinate for at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours. (Don’t marinate longer than 24 hours, as that can result in a mushy steak!)

What follows are the recipes for my favorite steak marinades. These recipes are designed for 1 ½ to 2 pounds of steak, trimmed of outside fat. As a general rule, you should allow ¼ to ½ cup of marinade for each pound of meat.


½ cup vegetable oil
1 T. coarsely ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 T. white vinegar
½ tsp. salt
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 T. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients, stirring until well blended.


½ cup soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. brown sugar
½ tsp. ground ginger
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and mix well.


1 cup bourbon
¼ cup soy sauce
3 T. Dijon mustard
¼ cup brown sugar
1 small yellow onion, diced fine
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, and mix well.


½ cup whiskey
½ cup brown sugar
1 T. minced garlic
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper


½ cup red wine vinegar
2 T. vegetable oil
1 T. Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. dry Italian seasoning
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients, stirring until well-blended.


1 cup dry red wine
2 T. balsamic vinegar
¼ cup chopped yellow onion
2 T. olive oil
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Marinade at least 15 minutes, up to overnight.


2/3 cup soy sauce
¼ cup lime juice
2 T. honey
2 T. ginger

Combine all ingredients until well-blended. Marinade at least 15 mi9nutes. Can also use to baste steaks while grilling.


¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 T. chopped green onion
1 ½ T. soy sauce
1 ½ T. vegetable oil
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper pods

Combine all ingredients, stirring until well-blended.


2/3 cup prepared Italian salad dressing
2 T. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 T. chili powder

Combine all ingredients and mix well.


¼ cup steak sauce
2 T. brown sugar, packed
2 T. lime juice
¼ tsp. ground red pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well.


1 cup prepared salsa
4 T. chopped cilantro
3 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. ground cumin

Combine all ingredients, stirring until well blended.


½ cup olive oil
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. ground cumin

In small bowl, whisk all ingredients together.


½ cup orange juice
¼ cup soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 dashes ground cloves

Combine all ingredients and mix well.


½ cup chopped onion
1 ½ T. brown sugar, packed
1 T. vegetable oil
1 T. prepared horseradish
1 T. water
¼ tsp. coarse ground black pepper

Cook onion and brown sugar in oil in small saucepan over medium heat until onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and continue cooking over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Cool thoroughly before using to marinate beef.

If you like, you can use these marinades as a basting liquid during grilling. However, after you’re done with a marinade, discard it. It’s not safe to reuse a marinade that has had raw meat soaking in it. There could be a lot of bacteria remaining in that marinade…not something you want to introduce to the next cut of meat you marinate.

Happy marinating!

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