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A Great Steak Marinade Recipe

Using a steak marinade recipe is one of the best ways to enhance the flavor of your favorite steaks. There is a better way out there (ageing), but a good marinade is the next best thing.

If you are someone who likes steak without a marinade, go for it. Please your own taste buds. But, if you like the extra flavor and tenderness that a marinade offers... let's get busy.

The Big Picture

When you create your steak marinade recipe, think about what you like. Do you like bold strong flavors? Do you like subtle flavors that only give a hint of their presence? That will help determine what type of seasonings to add, the amount and type of acid, as well as how long to marinate.

Some of the more tender cuts of meat, like filet mignon, T-bone, and rib-eye, may not need a lot of time in the marinade. Beef marinade recipes for these tender cuts are purely for flavor. Adjust marination times for the best flavor balance.

Other cuts would possibly benefit from a longer marinade time to get the tenderizing effect. If you marinate for a long time, be aware of amounts and type of seasonings. The flavors will intensify with time. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It just depends on what final flavors you are after.

Grilling steaks in the back yard is a great way to entertain. Marinades can make a big difference in the taste. Beef marinade recipes used on steaks can provide a huge range of flavors, based on what you prefer for ingredients.

Over the years when I've wanted to BBQ, I would immediately grab a cookbook or head to the internet for a recipe. I almost always ended up doing the same thing. I would find a recipe (or two) that had the basic ingredients that I wanted. Then I would create my own original version. Sometimes it turned out very good. Other times, it didn't.

But I never get mad. How can you get mad at something as good as BBQ? I just get another drink and try again.

I suggest that you do the same. Start with an established steak marinade recipe, either from the internet or a cookbook. (You thought I meant get a drink, didn't you?) Go ahead. That's OK. I'll be here when you get back.

A Little More Specific

No need to hunt up a cookbook. We're on the internet already. Let's look at this recipe for steak marinade:

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2/3 c lemon juice
1/3 c salad oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp garlic powder

Here is a basic steak marinade recipe. To start with, look it over for any undesirable ingredients. If you see one you don't like, toss it. Why use it if you don't like it, right?

Add something you do like. Maybe marjoram, that's a good steak seasoning. Adjust, too. You may want 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Another thing you might want to do is replace the garlic powder with 1 or 2 cloves of fresh minced garlic (fresh is almost always better).

This steak marinade recipe has twice as much acid as it does oil. I have also seen recipes with twice as much oil as acid. That leaves a lot of wiggle room. Go with proportions that give you the best balance of flavor and tenderness that suits your taste. This will come to you through trials.

After a while, you will get to where you won't even need a recipe to begin. You will achieve your desired results by perfecting the use of:

  • -proper oil and acid proportion
  • -types of acids
  • -common seasonings that work well together

After a while, you will get... well... good.

The more you do it, the better you will get. If you love it as much as I do, even the mistakes are not that big of a deal. Unless, of course, you are entertaining. That's not the time to be experimenting on a new steak marinade recipe you haven't tried yet.

Ageing Beef

Speaking of steaks (and we are), I mentioned ageing a little earlier. Ageing steaks is a way to tenderize and concentrate the flavor. The muscle fibers break down due to the natural enzymes in the meat. This happens naturally over a period of 11 to 30 days.

It's not done much anymore, though. Only professional butchers that have the experience and know-how attempt it. Some of the finer restaurants age their own meat.

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It is something that has to happen in a very controlled environment. The meat is hung so it has air circulation all around it. The temperature must be held between 36 and 32 degrees. The humidity must be constant at 85 percent. The meat must be checked daily for color and smell. The growth of bacteria and spoilage is the main concern.

Most individuals like us don't have the equipment or the knowledge to pull it off. With the cost of electricity for refrigeration, humidity control, ventilation, expert labor for up to a month, etc... it gets pretty expensive.

Another thing I found out about the ageing process, is that it only works with Prime or good quality cuts of Choice meats. The marbling (distribution of fat) of the meat has to be good. The meat is not cut into steaks until after it has been aged.

The process actually dries the meat. It will lose about 20 percent of it's original weight. By doing this, though, the flavor is more concentrated as well as being tender.

It doesn't happen as quickly as using a marinade, but it is more complete. Remember, a marinade only acts on the surface of the meat. If your steaks are thick (1" to 1 1/2"), a marinade doesn't affect the center.

So if you go into a high-end steakhouse that serves Prime aged cuts of beef... you will pay more. But you not only pay for the best quality meat, you are also paying for the cost of ageing. If you have never tried one, treat yourself. It is worth it.

My family took me to Ruth's Chris Steak House, in downtown Austin, Texas for my 50th birthday. I had a bone-in rib-eye (cowboy cut). The waiter was telling me about their ageing process. No need for a steak marinade recipe here. It was truly the best piece of meat I have ever eaten.

Back to the Steak Marinade Recipe

Keep track of what you do. Take a few notes along the way. If your recipe is outstanding, you will want it recorded so you can do it again. Maybe use it when entertaining, or to build (or maintain) your reputation as a BBQ expert. Maybe start your own original BBQ recipe book.

Now there is a money-making idea.

But, if it turns out, shall we say... less than appealing. Then just trash the notes and try another approach, or another steak marinade recipe altogether. Don't get mad... get another drink and try again. It's all fun.

Somewhere along the way, you'll hit on a good one. And you will really be glad you took the time to write down some ingredients and measurements.

Don't be afraid to experiment. Although, if you want to try a marinade of:

Guinness Stout

you might want to try it in small batches on small portions (and not when entertaining).

Experimentation is where you find unusual (but good) recipes. People think that I am crazy when they see me add a spoonful of pickle juice to my bowl of chili ... that is, until they taste it.

When I think of BBQ, I think of all the flavors and aromas. Cooking styles and techniques are important. However, the flavors come from the variations in the BBQ recipes. In this case, the steak marinade recipe. These are the things that put the zing, pizazz and uniqueness in the meal.

The BBQ recipe is where you can make your mark and stand out from the crowd. It is what will get you comments like "This is great. Where did you get the recipe?" or "This is excellent. I've just got to have the recipe". And of course you decide whether or not to give it up. After all... it is your steak marinade recipe.


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