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Some people like to use salt and pepper on their steaks to give it some flavor and other people prefer to use a marinade recipe. The great thing about using a marinade is that there are plenty of easy marinades you can choose from. Some marinade recipes are sweet, some are spicy, some are mustard or horseradish based, and others are soft and fruity. The sky is the limit when it comes to steak marinades.
The only real limit on how to season steak is your imagination. Marinating meat can be preferable to using a rub, especially if you are using a tough cut of meat, because a marinade breaks down the fibers in the meat, making it tender and soft. The best marinade is one that tenderizes your meat to perfection as well as adding exactly the right amount of flavor.
You should start off with a good cut of meat like rib-eye or New York strip. Coat the meat lightly with oil and pick an oil with a high smoke point so you do not get too much smoke. Coat the meat all over with the oil because the lubrication helps to conduct the heat into the steak. Season the oiled meat with coarsely ground sea salt or kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper. The oil will hold your seasonings in place.
You can also add dried herbs such as parsley. Do not go overboard with the herbs because you want to maximize the flavor of the meat, not overpower it with herbs. If you do not want herbs or pepper you will still need the salt because it reacts with the surface of the steak and brings out the flavor.
A marinade is a seasoned mixture used to add flavor and tenderize meat. If you are using tender beef cuts, you will only need to marinate the meat for fifteen minutes to two hours because it will not require tenderizing. Chuck, flank, round and skirt steak is tough to begin with so you might need to leave it marinating for several hours or overnight for the best results. Never marinate for over twenty-four hours else it might go mushy.
Marinate it in a non-reactive stainless steel or glass dish or in a food-safe plastic bag, turning the cuts of meat occasionally to give them even exposure to the marinade. Always marinade in the refrigerator and never at room temperature where bacteria could grow on the meat.
If you are going to use the marinade later for making a sauce or for basting, reserve some of it before adding the beef to the rest so the sauce or basting juice will not have been in contact with the raw meat. If it has been in contact with the meat, you will have to bring it to a rolling boil before using it. Never save and reuse a marinade.
Acidic ingredients for tenderizing include lemon juice, limejuice, Italian dressing, yogurt, wine, salsa, and vinegar. Tenderizing enzymes are found in pineapple, honeydew melon, mango, papaya, fresh ginger, figs, and kiwi fruit. A tenderizing marinade will penetrate about a fourth of an inch into the meat over the course of the marinating time.
You should allow a fourth to a half a cup of marinade for every one to two pounds of beef. If you want to know how to season unmediated meat with dry ingredients, use enough oil to coat the steak then give it a good, even sprinkling of salt and pepper on both sides before you cook it.