Marinating steak before putting it on the grill helps add flavor and tenderize the meat.
There are scores of bottled marinades available in a myriad of flavors. But it's just as easy to make your own. Marinades consist simply of an acid (wine, vinegar, citrus juice), an oil (just about any kind will do; you don't need a pricey olive oil) and any kind of seasoning. Try not to use too much oil, because it can cause flare-ups.
Other liquids, including beer or soy sauce, can be used. You can marinate steaks for an hour or as long as 12 hours, depending on the size and cut. (You can place steaks in a marinade and freeze them, too.)
Big, less-tender cuts of meat, such as briskets and roasts, benefit from longer marinating. Cuts such as skirt steak (used for making fajitas) need a longer marinating time so they become tender.
Marinades do not penetrate all the way through the steak. But try not to marinate them too long, because the meat could turn mushy. Marinating steaks (or other foods) in a plastic sealable bag works best, because the marinade completely covers them. The bag also takes up less room in the refrigerator.
When you're ready to grill, remove the steak from the marinade and discard the liquid. Unless you boil it for at least 3 to 5 minutes, never reuse marinade that has come in contact with raw meat.
Let the excess marinade drip off the steak, and then grill it as desired. It's best to start the steak off on medium-high heat to achieve a nice crusty sear. Once seared, move it to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking.
This recipe gets a burst of flavor from the balsamic vinegar in the marinade.
The leftovers are also yummy. You can thinly slice the steak and serve it on top of mixed salad greens or make a steak sandwich.
Grilled strip steak with olives and feta
4 strip steaks (or other favorite steak), about 6 ounces each
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
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
1 small onion, peeled, 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
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 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 sauté 1 minute. Add the onion and sauté until soft. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, olives and feta, and sauté 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 desired degree of doneness. It's best to have an instant-read thermometer. For medium-rare, the internal temperature should range from 125 to 130 degrees. Cover with the topping and drizzle with reserved marinade, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.
Adapted from Grilling Basics: A Step-by-Step Guide to Delicious Recipes by Linda Johnson Larsen
Nutrition information: 422 calories, 23 g. fat (9 g. saturated fat), 7 g. carbohydrates, 45 g. protein, 641 mg. sodium, 112 mg. cholesterol, 1 g. fiber.)