Give my steak some flavor
September 10, 2007 2:29 PM   Subscribe

How do you jazz up a tender (but bland) steak?

I recently got a good deal on some New York (cut) steak. After grilling a few (seasoned w/ salt + pepper), I'm less impressed w/ the flavor than I am w/ the texture. I understand that the tender cuts tend to be the bland ones, but I'd like to do something w/ this steak.

What would you recommend? I find that simpler is usually better w/ steak, but I'm open to all suggestions (marinades, seasonings, etc).

posted by timelord to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is EXACTLY what you need
posted by ReiToei at 2:31 PM on September 10, 2007 [8 favorites]

Are you talking about table salt and pepper or sea salt and fresh ground pepper? It can make a huge difference.
posted by JakeLL at 2:33 PM on September 10, 2007

I use Jamaican Jerk or Cajun seasoning.
posted by kenchie at 2:37 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Blue cheese crumbled on top just before it's done cooking makes a world of difference. Go for a nice, stinky Stilton. The $20/lb stuff. Do it. It rocks.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:37 PM on September 10, 2007

As much as I agree with caution live frogs, I just have to add one word: Tabasco.
posted by AwkwardPause at 2:39 PM on September 10, 2007

I had a great steak once that had a very unique flavor. I couldn't place it and asked the "chef" what he'd done. He'd soaked the steaks in Pepsi for an hour beforehand. Made them really tender and flavorful.
posted by sanka at 2:40 PM on September 10, 2007

Best answer: Sear them and make a pan sauce afterwards. Cook the steak in a big skillet with a tiny amount of fat. Remove the steak, add some butter (I use about 1-2 tbsp. per steak, but restaurants will use much more), and once the butter starts to brown throw in some liquid. Deglaze the pan and add some flavoring. Simmer for a few minutes to thicken it up.
posted by backseatpilot at 2:41 PM on September 10, 2007

That link is spot on. You want to get some Maillard going for crusty goodness, and then dress with some nice steak butter after.

We are cheap sirloin eaters in my house thanks to similar methods, because I can make that taste as good as fancy-cut restaurant steak.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:42 PM on September 10, 2007

It's not fancy but for steaks like this (NY strips most recently for me, too) I like to make the marinade that's on the Montreal Steak Seasoning bottle: soy sauce, olive oil, and the seasoning. I like it better than a vinegar based marinade because it's less assertive but has a nice flavor.

Also, Penzeys makes some nice spice blends to experiment with.
posted by cabingirl at 2:46 PM on September 10, 2007

Best answer: What JakeLL said. Also, how much are you cooking it? I find anything cooked more than medium rare to be pretty bland.

Worcestershire sauce is also key.. one of my favourite (simple) ways to do steak:

Cut some large garlic cloves in half. Rub the garlic all over the steak. Discard garlic.

Shake some Worcestershire (Lea & Perrins only, please) over the steaks. Rub in. Don't use too much.

Your hands will smell delicious by this point. You may wish to lick them.

Allow steaks to sit for about 1/2 an hour. Resist the urge to go caveman and eat the raw steaks, if you can. This is a really good time to:

1) Open that bottle of wine you'll be drinking with dinner.
2) Make the Caesar dressing & prep the salad ingredients.

Sprinkle steak extremely liberally with fresh coarsely ground pepper, and somewhat less liberally with (in order of preference) sea salt, fleur de sel, or Kosher salt.

Grill to rare or blue-rare. Consume. Preferably with a knife and fork.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:47 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


As soon as you take them off the grill, throw a teaspoon of chilled herbed butter on top of each steak.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:48 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Some really good answers already. I do like my steaks rare and definitely use fresh pepper + sea salt when I've got it.
posted by timelord at 2:51 PM on September 10, 2007

Best answer: My Method: (for 2 steaks)

1 clove garlic
onion powder
sea salt
other seasoning salt (Lowrey's etc)
coarse pepper

Mash a clove of garlic rub this on both sides of the steaks
apply onion powder lightly to one side
add a good amount of sea salt to one side
same for the pepper
rub this into the steak

turn over and repeat except use the seasoning salt instead of sea salt on this side.

take a pad of butter per steak and rub over steak each side to "stick" the seasonings you just rubbed in

let sit in refrigerator for about 20-30 mins
then grill - I sear on the hot part of the grill for about 2 mins per side, then move to a lower heat (not direct heat) area if I'm using the Weber outside and finish them with about 8 or 9 minutes depending on how thick they are then take them inside to rest for about 5 min before serving.

If I cheat and use our Paninni maker, I set it high for searing and them medium to finish them, 6-7 minutes since it cooks both sides at the same time.

Feel free to sub in anything you like herb or spice wise instead of garlic that you might like on steak.

I know you asked for simple so here's a more time intensive recipe for your beef at the end:

Or you can trim the fat off, cube the meat and make Bo Luc Lac (shaking beef) - Note: I modify the recipe a lot by not using fish sauce (I use some soy sauce instead), thin slice the tomatoes and I use brown sugar instead of plain sugar, and rice vinegar. I also add oil to the beef marinade (olive oil) and use more sugar than indicated.
Definitely use the lime/salt/pepper dipping sauce to dip the beef. It's a good, crunchy/sweet/salty mix with fresh lettuce and tomatoes with a sour zing from the marinated onions.
posted by clanger at 3:14 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: backseatpilot is right about making the sauce but he was a little vague. deglaze with cooking sherry. season with salt and pepper.
posted by Bonzai at 3:25 PM on September 10, 2007

Some people who like the taste of blue cheese, but not the smell, use a technique to create great steak butter. Just cut slices of blue cheese and slices of butter and lay them on top of each other for an hour or so. Then remove the cheese, and the butter has the flavor, but not the smell.
posted by wackybrit at 3:33 PM on September 10, 2007

try a rub of black pepper, onion powder, and coffee grinds. apply liberally. pan sear.

open a window, though, it gets smoky.
posted by brooklynexperiment at 3:49 PM on September 10, 2007

Best answer: Argentine-style chimichurri. My favorite recipe is in The Minimalist Cooks Dinner, but there are bazillions of variations.

Chimichurri...amazing stuff. I'm not a huge fan of steak, but throw some chimichurri on it and I'll wolf it down. Transformative.
posted by splendid animal at 5:01 PM on September 10, 2007

Seconding Montreal Steak Seasoning, but I prefer the shake-on type (not the liquid). Yum!!
posted by aberrant at 5:02 PM on September 10, 2007

Are you grilling over charcoal or gas? I've found that grilling over hardwood will give a nice flavor, as well as let you cook the steak a lot faster (because you can get the wood insanely hot). Perhaps also mesquite could work, if it is to your taste. I use hickory or pecan.

I also put a liberal dollop of real butter on my steaks after I cook them, and I let them sit around for five minutes after they're done.

I've had rosemary rubbed (with oil) on my steaks before, and found it to be quite pleasant.

Please don't put tabasco on steak. That's uncivilized.

But tabasco is awesome on popcorn.
posted by popechunk at 6:03 PM on September 10, 2007

mmmm... Green Peppercorn sauce... kinda overwhelms the flavor of the meat...should be perfect for your situation. Needs french fries to mop up extra sauce though...
posted by waylons at 7:02 PM on September 10, 2007

I always grill over solid mesquite charcoal. Nice heat, a good smoke factor when the grill's closed, and a delicious flavor.

In addition, I've found it does some interesting coloring things to the meat. When I grill bratwurst, they come out a deep, rich red...
posted by Samizdata at 7:20 PM on September 10, 2007

I've recently been experimenting with flank steak and mushrooms. Specifically the art of rolling mushrooms up in flank steak. That with a rub consisting of ancho powder, salt and garlic powder has turned out some of the best steak I've ever prepared.
posted by sublivious at 8:29 PM on September 10, 2007


Regardless of how you adulterate your protein, the main aspect that separates us from *chefs* is high heat.

Preheat your grill/range/pan until it is putting off toxic smoke.

Toss on your protein. Cook shorter than you think. Flip it. Cook the other side shorter than you think.

Then *rest* the protein to let the molecules stop being so tight and straight. This will let the juices reabsorb into the protein. It takes at least ten minutes. Wrap your protein chunks in aluminum foil for ten minutes and don't touch them.

This is the difference between protein at home and protein at an excellent restaranteur. Honest. High heat, and resting the meat.

The flavors other folks are suggesting are just that: Flavors. The real difference is high heat and resting the meat.
posted by lothar at 8:35 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

For a nice change, I love a marinade of soy sauce and lemon juice...

I take the steak and put it in a ziploc baggie with enough soy sauce to coat the bottom of the steak, squeeze in juice from 1/2 lemon... let sit for 15 minutes at room temp. Rotate so the other side gets some of the tasty sauce. 15 more minutes.

Now slap that puppy on a hot grill and sprinkle with some oregano late enough in the process not to burn it.

Super super tasty.
posted by twiggy at 10:56 PM on September 10, 2007

Rather than nth every other suggestion up here (save for the tabasco, to which I 2d popechunk's plea that you never never put it on your steak), I'll simply present for your approval the greatest recipe for steak . . . EVAH!!

This is my own recipe, and it works best with a fairly lean cut, like your London Broils, or your New York Strips. If you want to do this with a nice thick filet, that's fine too.

First, procure the following ingredients:

* Pomegranite juice (I like the Pom brand, personally)
* High quality soy sauce (Kikkoman or better)
* A nice full and rich red wine (I really really like the Yellowtail Shiraz)
* Good Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Combine equal parts (say, like a cup each of) pomegranite juice and soy sauce in a gallon size ziploc bag. Place your steak in the mixture. Add wine so that you completely cover the steak(s) in the mixture (and add several shakes of Worcestershire if you choose). Marinate for up to an hour (but if you make the marinade strong, as you should, you'll get fine results with a 20-30 minute dip).

Take the steaks out and put them over a hot wood charcoal fire. How hot should the fire be? Can you hold your hand over the fire, about five inches above the grill surface, for five seconds? If so, then the fire is perfect (four seconds is a bit better). The coals should be mostly grey, and you should have a small bit of bright orange flame licking out from beneath the pile.

Like others here, I like mine rare. Actually, I like my steak Pittsburghed, but without the bleu cheese sauce. Having the fire nice and hot HOT HOTTTT helps out a lot.

In the alternative, I've also dabbled with a nice recipe I cribbed from Mark Bittman's NYT column a couple-few years back, which goes something like this: find a good, marbled ribeye steak. Find some good Japanese wasabi paste. Apply wasabi paste to ribeye. Grill to taste (usually about 4 mins./side for nice and rare).

As you can see, the jaydees like the steaky. Mmmmmmmmmmmm . . . meat!!!
posted by deejay jaydee at 8:24 AM on September 11, 2007

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