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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

What’s the Best Seasoning for Steak



Such a special meat deserves they royal treatment!
Such a special meat deserves the royal treatment!

Many of us love steak, but it isn’t something we get to eat every day (sadly). Steak is a special dish that should be treated with great respect. A global favorite, it’s a meat that can be prepared in many ways to suit any beef lover’s palate. Whether fried, grilled, or barbecued, it’s going to be delicious.

Before you start thinking about how you’ll prepare your steak, you need to select the cut of beef you’re going to use. There are plenty of cuts to choose from.

Which cuts of meat should I use?

The longissimus dorsi, known as the loin, are long and tender muscles that run down the spine, ribs, or from the neck to the hip. Steak tenderness is related to the amount of activity which occurred within a muscle during the cow’s lifetime—a muscle that moves a lot will be less tender than one that was used less. This makes the loin very tender and ideal for steak. It’s also relatively cheap.

The psoas major is found 2/3 of the way down the spine and on the opposite side of the ribs to the loin. Commonly known as tenderloin or fillet mignon, these are in fact the most tender muscles on the entire cow. Owing to their small size and the high demand for this meat, however, they are more expensive.

How should I prepare my steak?

Sometimes, a good cut of steak requires no extra seasoning, other than a bit of salt and pepper. But, having eaten steak many a time before, it can be a nice change to experiment with your prep work. Depending on the cut, you might want to tenderize the meat by covering it with plastic wrap and whacking it a few times with a rolling pin. Breaking up the meat fibres will make for a softer steak.

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A simple marinade can make a big difference. Try mixing salt, pepper, beef bouillon, and crushed garlic with some olive oil. Cut a few small slits into your steak to encourage flavor absorption, and rub the marinade into the meat. Leave it to rest for an hour and cook with whatever method you choose.

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You can use a combination of spices and herbs to take your steak to the next level!
You can use a combination of spices and herbs to take your steak to the next level!

Sometimes we order food in a restaurant, despite knowing we could make it at home ourselves, because offers us the opportunity to try someone else’s take on it. This is what makes steakhouses so great. Anyone can cook a steak, yet everyone does it differently. We all have our own rituals for cooking this simple, but delicious, meat.

Traditionally, a steakhouse seasoning will contain crushed peppercorns and garlic, along with the chef’s favorite combination of spices: cumin, cilantro seeds, paprika, etc. Each chef will have their own take on the seasoning, though peppercorn and garlic are staples. Starting from the base ingredients, a steakhouse seasoning is an exciting way to experiment at home.

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Having said that, unless you’re a habitual cooker at home, it’s unlikely that you’ll have your own fully-stocked spice rack. The perfect spice collection is an expensive purchase that takes time and money to build. If you’re seeking to emulate the wonderful flavors you recently experienced at a steakhouse, but don’t have the time to source tons of spices, there are a few good seasoning ranges out there for you to try.

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Steakhouse Seasonings

Amazing Taste’s Steakhouse Seasoning is one of the best. It combines the traditional peppercorn and garlic staple with a unique blend of spices. It has a strong, smoky, and slightly spicy flavor. This seasoning is unique in that it enhances the flavors of the steak, while retaining the juices of the meat. It’s also GMO-free.

Amazing Taste Steakhouse Seasoning Bundle (10 Packets- .75 oz ea.)

See Amazing Taste Steakhouse Seasoning at Amazon

Amazing Taste’s spice blend can be used with any of your favorite cooking methods. Simply sprinkle it on and grill, bake, or barbecue to your liking. If you’re barbecuing, the manufacturer suggests that you brush your steak with barbecue sauce during the last few minutes of cooking for added flavor.

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Keg Steakhouse and Bar also sells its own unique seasoning, so you can have that unmistakable steakhouse flavor right in your own home. You can purchase Keg’s seasoning at their various locations throughout Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and Washington. Again, this seasoning is best when sprinkled on and rubbed into the meat. For a true steakhouse experience, the steak should be flame-grilled.

McCormick Grill Mates produces one of the most popular steak seasonings on the market. Their Montreal Steak Seasoning combines the traditional peppercorn and garlic mixture with a hint of paprika extract. They use both black and red pepper as well, which gives a slightly different and distinct flavor than other seasonings. Sprinkle it liberally over your beef before putting it on the grill or pan for a truly delicious steak.

McCormick 433677 Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning, 29 Ounce

See McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning at Amazon

Seasoning for Grilled Steak

Come summertime, barbecuing is probably the most popular family event of the season. This might involve these great BBQ appetizers, ice cold beers (served in mugs chilled in the freezer), and grilling a few steaks.

Steakhouse flavor is not to everyone’s liking. Flame-grilled, peppery steak can be a little overwhelming and smoky. That’s not to say that you can’t grill a steak without it tasting like it came from a steakhouse.

Instead of brushing the steak with barbecue sauce, brush it with some groundnut oil. It has a mild flavor and can withstand high temperatures. Olive oil will heat too quickly over a flame and potentially ruin your steak. Always make sure your meats are cooked to safe temperatures by using a good meat thermometer!

The Organic Depot produces excellent cold-pressed groundnut oil, which is perfect for grilling steak. Its mild taste won’t overwhelm the steak’s natural flavor. If you like, you can add to it your own blend of ground pepper, kosher salt, and your choice of spices. As a tip, paprika always goes well on a grilled steak, as does chilli powder if you want a spicy kick!

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Be yourself!

Despite what Gordon Ramsay and other experts say, salt and pepper aren’t always the best seasonings for steak. Select your cut carefully and experiment with a variety of spices, herbs, and minerals. For a smoky steakhouse flavor, pack your seasoning with peppercorn and garlic. If you want to try something different on the grill, use groundnut oil to slowly cook the steak, and enjoy an evenly-cooked, delicious piece of beef!

What about a kickin’ chili seasoning? Can you use those old chilis you found in the back of your spice cupboard?

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For more steak-related goodness, check out my review on the best indoor grill for steak. Or, serve up beef with an Asian twist with the best indoor grill for Korean BBQ. And, if cooking steak indoors appeals to you, especially during the colder months, you might also enjoy this recipe for steak cooked in a cast iron skillet!

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Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Bryce Heitman

Bryce is not a real professor, but he's real nerdy in the kitchen. He's been barbecuing, chopping, and generally blazing food for many decades. He thinks there's definitely a better spatula or utensil out there that hasn't been invented yet.

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