Grilled Marinated Strip Steak

Not all steaks are created equal. A good New York strip or ribeye is great on the barbecue, while others such as a skirt steak are too tough to grill or broil but very tasty if you braise them.

But when you add a marinade to the mix, the grilling surface becomes level because the acid breaks down the muscle and makes the meat more tender.

I’ve always been a big fan of marinades for steaks and other cuts of meat, and so are the people who’ve sampled anything from my grill that were cooked in this method.

My views are shared by a lot of people I know, too, like Moriah Opp who works at my gym. Moriah told me the other day that she had cooked some steaks on the grill that had been marinated and that her guests raved about them.

Marinades can be a key to a super steak. They usually are made up of an acidic ingredient (wines, vinegars and citrus juices), an oil (I like olive), and any kind of seasoning. You also can use liquids such as beer and soy sauce. Steaks should be marinated for at least four hours.

Here’s grilled steak recipe with a marinade that contains balsamic vinegar, one of my wife’s favorite condiments. If it taste anything like the salads she makes, it’s going to be a winner.

Grilled Strip Steak with Olives and Feta
4 strip steaks (or other favorite steak), about 6 ounces each
MARINADE:
½ cup canola or olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced or crushed garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
TOPPING:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
½ cup sliced mixed green and kalamata olives
½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Cut several slits on the fat side of the strip steaks so they don’t curl when grilling. Place the steaks in a plastic bag. In a small bowl whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Pour half of the marinade over the steaks in the bag. Seal the bag and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. Cover and refrigerate the other half of the marinade.
Preheat the grill to medium-high.
Remove the steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade. Let steaks sit at room temperature while you make the topping.
In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the onions and saute until soft. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, olives and feta and saute 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Oil the grill grate. Place the steaks on the grill and grill 5 minutes or until you get good grill marks. If desired, turn on an angle and cook 1 to 2 minutes to get nice cross-hatch marks. Turn and continue grilling until the steak is cooked to the desired degree of doneness. Cover with the topping and drizzle with remaining marinade, if desired.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving based on 5 ounces of beef: 422 calories, 49 percent of calories from fat, 23 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 7 grams carbohydrates, 45 grams protein, 641 milligrams sodium, 112 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.

Old-Fashioned Steak and Potatoes

Do you remember when pan-frying or roasting was the only way people cooked meat? I could probably count on one hand the number of times we grilled meat in my childhood.

But grilling has become a favorite pastime — even during the winter — of many Americans, so rarely do I come across a recipe for preparing meat any other way. But when I do, it’s usually worth a second look.

This past week, I took a peak at an recipe for pan-fried steak with an earthy mushroom-pesto sauce. An accompanying recipe for hot pepper potatoes made the meal even more interesting. The nice thing about the two recipes — a good old-fashioned meat-and-potatoes meal — is that they can be made in the same pan and on the table is less than an hour. Along with a salad, it’s a complete meal.

Mushroom Pesto Steak
Olive oil spray
¾ pound beef tenderloin
¼ pound sliced Portobello mushrooms (about 1 2/3 cups)
2 tablespoons prepared pesto sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Several sprigs watercress (optional)
Cut tenderloin into 2-inch slices. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with olive oil. Saute mushrooms 1 minute, turn and saute 1 minute more. Transfer to a food processor, add pesto and ¼ cup water, and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Add the steak to the same skillet. Sear over high heat for 2 minutes; turn and sear 2 more minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook 4 to 5 minutes for medium rare (145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), 6 to 7 minutes for medium (160 degrees.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide steak between dinner plates, spoon sauce on top and garnish with watercress.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 346 calories, 46 percent of calories from fat, 17.8 grams fat (5.6 grams saturated, 9.3 grams monounsaturated), 119 milligrams cholesterol, 41.2 grams protein, 4.2 grams carbohydrates, 1.1 grams fiber, 239 milligrams sodium.

Hot Pepper Potatoes
1 pound yellow potatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
Several drops hot pepper sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Wash potatoes (don’t peel) and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 5 minutes. Test with a fork; if not soft, microwave 2 more minutes. (Or boil potatoes in water to cover for about 10 minutes.)
Add olive oil and hot pepper sauce to skillet in which steak was cooked. Raise the heat to high. Add the potatoes and toss until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the steak.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 199 calories, 22 percent of calories from fat, 4.8 grams fat (0.7 grams saturated, 3.3 grams monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 4.3 grams protein, 36.1 grams carbohydrates, 3.9 grams fiber, 21 milligrams sodium.

The Perfect Steak

Cooking the perfect steak at home is all about the marinade. That’s according to Chef Jack Sinanaj of Empire Steak House in New York City. The five-star restaurant chef offers the following tips to create the perfect steak in your own home.

* Know your meat: Marinades should be reserved for low fat cuts or tougher meat such as — sirloin, flat iron, skirt steak, hanger steak and flank steak. Expensive meat cuts like filet mignon, rib-eye, T-bone should not be marinated as they are already packed with juice and flavor.

* It’all about the cut: Start by cutting the meat into thin slices. This allows the marinade to soak the meat evenly. If the slice is too thick, the outside of the meat will become too sour and offset the taste.

* Proper storage: While marinating, place the meat in a sealed container like a zip-type bag or plastic container with a sealed lid.

* Choose your marinade: A basic marinade consists of oil, sweeteners or spices and an ingredient that helps tenderize the meat. Acidic tenderizers include vinegar, wine or lemon juice. Fruit-based tenderizers are papaya, pineapple, ginger and kiwi. Additionally, dairy products like buttermilk and Greek yogurt has an astonishing tenderizing effect due to the lactic properties. Whatever you decide to use, remember to not go overboard as it can make the steak too soft.

* Don’t fork it: Never fork your meat while marinating or cooking as it makes the juices fall out. Instead gently massage the marinade into the meat.

* Last steps: Place the sealed container in the fridge and marinade for at least two hours and up to 24 hours before cooking.

Marinated Flank Steak

1 flank steak, about 1½ pounds
¼ cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons each: soy sauce, minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each: brown sugar, orange zest, ground allspice
½ teaspoon each: hot pepper sauce, kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons butter
Place steak, pineapple juice, soy sauce, cilantro, sesame oil, garlic, brown sugar, orange zest, allspice, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper to taste in plastic food storage bag; seal. Shake to blend; marinate 30 minutes.
Place steak on broiler pan; reserve marinade. Broil on high, 4 inches from broiler, 5 minutes on one side; turn. Broil 3 minutes on second side for medium-rare. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, heat reserved marinade and wine in medium saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, until sauce reduces in half, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; sir in butter until melted. Serve sauce over steak.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 245 calories, 57 percent of calories from fat, 15 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 65 milligrams cholesterol, 3.1 grams carbohydrates, 23 grams protein, 610 milligrams sodium, 0.3 grams fiber.

Spiced-Up Steak

One spice that I like a lot is cumin. For one thing, it’s an essential ingredient in my 10-Alarm Chili.

While cumin is know worldwide (the member of the parsley family is native from the east Mediterranean to East India), more and more people in the U.S. are starting to use the aromatic, somewhat bitter spice in their cooking.

I imagine the trend in this country started in the Southwest, where Mexican cuisine is prevalent. Cumin, or "comino" as its called south of the border, is an ingredient in virtually all Mexican meat and bean dishes. It’s also popular in European countries. For example, Swiss and Dutch cooks use cumin seed to flavor certain cheeses, while those in other countries flavor breads with cumin.

I recently came a cross an interesting recipe using cumin. It was among several that I received from McCormick, the spice people. It’s called Roasted Cumin-Crusted Grilled Steaks with Tomato Relish. (See the other recipes at www.mccormickgourmet.com.)

Since this is grilling season, I’m considering trying it out on some vacuumed-sealed elk steaks that we have in the freezer. After the steaks are grilled, they are served with a tomato relish. That’s the kind of meal that’s right up my alley.

Roasted Cumin-Crusted Grilled Steaks with Tomato Relish
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Roasted Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Oregano Leaves, Mediterranean
1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Sicilian Sea Salt
½ teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Garlic Powder
¼ teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Red Pepper, Ground Cayenne
1 pound boneless beef sirloin or New York strip steaks (about ¾-inch thick)
1 pint assorted colors cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 2 cups)
¼ cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Mix sugar, cumin, oregano, sea salt, garlic powder and red pepper in small bowl until well blended. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture. Brush steaks lightly with oil. Rub remaining spice mixture on both sides of steaks. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor.
Meanwhile, mix tomatoes, onion, oil, vinegar and reserved spice mixture in medium bowl. Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Grill steaks over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Slice steak and serve with Tomato Relish.
Note: For maximum flavor, refrigerate steaks for 2 hours after rubbing with spice mixture. Tomato Relish also can be prepared earlier in the day and refrigerated until ready to serve.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 267 calories, 15 grams fat, 24 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 57 milligrams cholesterol 560 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Steak — The Green Way

Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. A lot has happened since the first one was celebrated in April 1970.

I have to admit, back then as a college student, the observation didn’t mean as much to me as it does today. Now, I’m trying to do my best to be a good steward of the Earth on a daily basis.

I’m into recycling as are many others. I also don’t use chemicals on my garden or lawn. And as a hunter and an angler, I try to practice conservation.

One area I hadn’t given a lot of thought about was cooking green. That was until I picked up "Cooking Green," by cookbook author Kate Heyhoe. In it, she talks about reducing our "cookprint."

One way to do this is reducing our energy consumption, she suggests. She writes that the appliances we use for storing and cooking our food accounts for 30 percent of our household energy use.

One of the most interesting suggestions she has is that we consider using toaster ovens. Heyhoe says toaster ovens take less time to heat up and cool down and use way less energy than a standard oven.

And you can fix just about anything in a toaster oven — from pizza to chicken to pork chops, baked potatoes to hamburgers to fish to steaks. It’s surprising how many things you can make in a toaster oven.

If you have a toaster oven that’s been gathering dust like we did and want some recipes, I suggest you pick up a copy of "The Gourmet Toaster Oven" (Ten Speed Press, $18.95) by Lynn Alley. In it, Alley offers several dozen toaster oven recipes, including ones for muffins, pot pies and cakes, not to mention main dishes.

Here are two the recipes from the book that look appealing to me.

Grilled Steak with Cracked Peppercorns
4 teaspoons black or mixed peppercorns
1 to 2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 porterhouse steaks or other cut of choice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin
Olive oil
2 lemon wedges (optional)
Preheat the toaster oven to broil. For easy cleanup, line the toaster oven baking tray with aluminum foil. (Check your manufacturer’s instructions, however, for any cautions against the use of aluminum foil in your toaster oven.)
Crush the peppercorns and salt in a mortar using a pestle. Or if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, toss the peppercorns and salt into a sealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or a wine bottle.
Rub both sides of the steak with the olive oil and press the peppercorn mixture into the steaks. Place the steak on the prepared tray.
Broil the steak for about 7 to 10 minutes on each side, until the meat reaches medium doneness. (The time may vary depending upon the thickness of the steak.) Remove from the oven, transfer to plates, and serve immediately with lemon.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutrtional analysis per serving: 423 calories, 21 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, no sugar, 37 grams fat, 77 milligrams cholesterol, 1,343 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Roasted Asparagus
10 ounces fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt
Capers (optional)
Preheat the toaster oven to 375.
Toss the asparagus with the olive oil and vinegar in a baking dish and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the asparagus spears are tender. Serve hot or chill to room temperature and garnish with capers. Or serve cold in a salad.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 171 calories, 3 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams sugar, 14 grams fat, no cholesterol, 140 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Steak and Onions

I have a favorite recipe for marinating meat. It contains honey, teriyaki and orange juice with a bit of onion, garlic and rosemary. I use it on wild game and domestic meats.

It doesn’t take too long to put together, but if I’m in a hurry, McCormick’s line of Grill Mates marinades is a good substitute. I particularly like the mesquite-flavored marinade. (It also comes in Montreal Steak and Baja Citrus flavors.

When a couple of my friends and I were out hunting this past weekend, we marinated some elk steaks in the mesquite marinade and later pan-fried them with some onions (Walla Wallas and Sweet Spanish) from my garden. We served the steak and onions up with some cheesy mashed potatoes seasoned with a little garlic and a pile of cooked carrots, also from my garden. It was as good a meal as I’ve had.

That brings me to steak and onions. I can’t imagine eating a good steak without some onions. I like to make Swiss steak every once in a while with my elk. The combination of the meat, onions, tomatoes and spices I use makes for a scruptious dish. It’s one of my grandson’s favorites. We usually serve it with whole-kernel corn and mashed spuds.

With my penchant for steak and onions, I’m always on the look out for new recipes. I recently came across the following, which probably will find its way to our dining room table in the not-too-distant future.

Sirloin with Carmelized Onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon salt
1 or 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 sirloin top round steak, about 8 ounces, or nice venison or elk steak, sliced in half
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons prepared olive tapenade
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet; add onions. Season with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Lower heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Stir in vinegar; cook until most of it has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove onions from skillet; keep warm.
Season steaks on both sides with remaining ¼ teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste. Cook steaks in the skillet over medium-high heat until browned, 3 minutes. Turn; cook to desired doneness, about 2 minutes for medium-rare. Serve over onions; top each with tapenade.
Yield: Serves: 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 379 calories, 89 percent of calories from fat, 21 grams fat (5 grams saturated fat), 75 milligrams cholesterol, 10 grams carbohydrates, 35 grams protein, 778 millgrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.