Even though the seasonal lines are blurry here in Texas, I think it’s safe to say it’s mid-summer. And with that, let’s shake up our typical grilling routine by adding a rub or marinade to our steaks or burgers. Rubs and marinades allow you to enjoy a different flavor on your steak every night. Because I know we all eat steak every night, right?
You can buy store bought rubs and marinades, but be aware of the sodium content in commercial ones. It’s easy enough to make them at home using items you already have in your pantry.
When using a marinade it’s important to remember that you can use it for flavor and tenderization. If you just want to add some flavor to a more tender cut, like a strip steak or filet, then only marinate for 30 minutes or up to two hours. On tougher cuts, such as the flank steak or skirt steak, you want to give the marinade time to work. Six hours to 18 hours is what we recommend for those tougher cuts.
It’s important that your marinade contains an acid and an oil if you’re trying to tenderize. You can also add your favorite spices to round out the marinades flavor. Try adding garlic, thyme, cumin or fennel seeds.
Give the acid some time to break down those tissues so that your steak will be more tender. Examples of acids are citrus juices, vinegars, soy sauce and wine.
Dry rubs are also great on more tender cuts. A rub is a collection of dry spices that we use just for flavor. I love rubs because it’s a way of adding flavor without adding any fat and calories. When using a dry rub, don’t just sprinkle it on to the steak or burger.
Actually rub it into the meat so that it makes really good contact. One tip to remember is that the longer you leave a rub on, the stronger the flavor is going to be. So if your friend comes over and says he has a cayenne pepper rub that tastes fantastic, don’t put it on three or four hours ahead of time.
I like to use a dry rub with a little bit of olive oil. Put the oil on the steak first so the rub has something to stick to.
TIPS: Make sure you use pure olive oil. The virgin or extra-virgin tend to be bitter when heated up on the grill. AND, don’t overuse a rub, because it could overpower the flavor of the beef.
Whether it’s a rub or a marinade, just find the flavor you like. The different flavors of rubs and marinades are endless. Have fun mixing different ingredients to flavor your steaks and burgers.