I know what you’re thinking. Why would you marinate a steak in bourbon? Isn’t the steak good enough on its own? I was skeptical until I tried it. One taste of this bourbon steak recipe and you’ll find that whiskey and steak are a natural pairing.
For me, it was being invited to our good friends home for dinner. Bill and Tarah have been friends since college, and he knew I loved both a good steak and a good bourbon. In fact, I jokingly accused him of withholding this fantastic recipe for over thirty years. Turns out, it was new to him and he immediately thought of me when it came time to try it out.
Bourbon or whiskey?
The first thing you should know (no, it isn’t opening the bottle of bourbon and sipping while you grill – even though we did) is the difference between marinating in whiskey as opposed to bourbon marinade recipe. There is a difference. Bill said exactly what I was thinking. It’s better to marinate in bourbon because it supplies the vanilla flavor that comes through in the meat. And for that, we have to thank the old oak barrels that are used when aging bourbon. And what about the cost of the bourbon? Should you use the cheap stuff or the really expensive stuff? Chefs say to grill with the same bourbon you are comfortable drinking because you obviously aren’t going to use the entire bottle in the marinade. Bill chose Four Roses Bourbon for this occasion, and it was a perfect choice. Visit Raising the Bar Liquors to find the perfect bourbon to go with our bourbon steak recipe.
So here is Raising The Bar’s favorite bourbon steak recipe, and you won’t believe how simple it is.
Bourbon Steak Recipe
Begin with one cup of bourbon
Add one cup Worcestershire sauce
One chopped shallot
Two cloves of minced garlic
Two teaspoons of Kosher salt
Two teaspoons of ground black pepper
Our bourbon steak recipe is that simple. In fact, it shouldn’t be anything more complicated, because anything else would mask the flavor of the steak, and we don’t want that.
Choosing the Right Steak
Okay, enough about the whiskey for a moment. Let’s talk about steaks. You want to use ribeye steak, about a pound each. For our bourbon steak recipe, look for ribeyes that are about an inch to an inch and a half thick. Thick steaks allow for a good char on the grill without overcooking the center.
Put two thawed steaks in a plastic ziplock bag. Pour half of the marinade mixture into the bag. Then press as out as much air from the bag as possible before sealing the ziplock. Then two more steaks in another bag. To really get the marinade into the meat, they should marinate for about four hours in the refrigerator. But it can be longer if you prefer – up to 24 hours. The longer you marinate, the more bourbon flavor will get into the steak. The more bourbon flavor in the steak, the better the bourbon steak recipe turns out!
After marinating, the steaks really won’t look like much, but don’t be alarmed. In fact, at first glance, you might wonder if you made a mistake. But trust me, when they get on the grill, they will caramelize into a gorgeous piece of meat. Remove the steaks from the bags and pat them dry with a paper towel and wipe away any of the shallots that are still sticking to the steaks. Put them back on to a rimmed baking sheet. Brush both sides with vegetable oil. Add a little salt and pepper. Flip the steaks over and repeat with the oil, salt, and pepper. Then it’s time to grill.
Grilling Tips for the Bourbon Steak Recipe
But first, while the wives were indoors preparing salads, Bill and I toasted with a small shot of the Four Roses on ice and a good cigar while grilling on his deck (nothing gets good college reminiscing going like a shot on the rocks). We heated the grill for 15 minutes – all of the burners on high. When we lifted the lid, we could actually see the heat. And that’s an important key to searing steaks on the grill.
Once it is good and hot, it is a great time to give the grill a little cleaning. Use a hard brush and clean it every time you grill. It’s also a good idea to oil the grill grates. Use a pair of long tongs and a wad of paper towels soaked in vegetable oil. Run the paper towels over the grill grates to get them nice and oiled. They might spark a flame and catch fire, but it’s okay. It burns itself out right away.
Now turn the burners down to medium-high. You don’t want to overcook the steaks too quickly before they get a good crust, so medium-high is perfect. Put the steaks on the grill and say hello Mr. Sizzle.
The idea is to cook the steaks about six to eight minutes on each side. But for a nice cross hatch, rotate them at about the four-minute mark. Remember, if you’re cooking on a gas grill, close the lid.
Check the steaks after about 12 minutes. Hold a steak upright with a pair of tongs and insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the steak. I like a good medium-rare temperature for this bourbon steak recipe, so I was looking for about 125 degrees.
It’s important to use a rack when removing the meat. Don’t let them sit in their own juices before eating. What’s the first thing you notice? That wonderful bourbon aroma and the unique golden color of the steak. Now let the steaks rest for about 10 minutes under foil to keep them warm.
Time to Eat
After the table was set and the wine was poured, it was time to eat. So juicy and delicious. You won’t believe the gorgeous flavor of the steak. It’s like everything that is wonderful about bourbon is infused with everything wonderful about steak. You’ll notice the caramel and smoky vanilla tones coming through, but it isn’t overly boozy.
A marinade can ruin a good piece of meat, but this one makes a perfect steak even better. Juicy, meaty, charred and sublime. The four of us had a great night and it was, in part, due to the delicious meal. Raising the Bar hopes you try our favorite bourbon steak recipe at your next special occasion.