What's the proper way to cook steaks that have been marinating?

Joined Oct 14, 2010
I have a question regarding cooking steaks that have been marinating.

Ordinarily, when sauteeing steaks, you want to pat them dry and use nothing more than a bit of oil in the pan (not counting seasonings added after they're in).

However, when cooking steaks that have been marinating, what is the protocol?  Do you still want to dry them first or put them in dripping?  Do you still use oil?  Is it a good or bad idea to put some of the marinade in the pan so you have extra "sauce" to pour on the steaks when they're done?

This part is new to me, and I'd appreciate any guidance people can offer.
Joined Sep 5, 2008
Same protocol: pat them dry before you put them in the hot pan with hot oil.

As for using the marinade for sauce - why not? But marinades are usually not designed to be eaten by themselves, as they are strongly flavored. And sauces usually need to be reduced to get to the desired consistency. So maybe you can use just a couple tablespoons of that marinade as a seasoning to your sauce - but it will also need body (stock, cream, etc...).
Joined Oct 2, 2010
You're probably talking about non-oily marinades; in wine etc. mostly used on bigger pieces of meat.

There's also oil marinades which are better fit for steaks imo. I usually take nice steaks out of the fridge well before cookingtime and put them on a plate, pour some sunfloweroil on, spread some thymeleaves over them, some roughly chopped garlic and black pepper. I dig in with my hands to get the oil on everywhere. Half an hour later, the flavors are allready in the meat... You can marinate longer if you want to.

Oil/fat is the best and fastes "transmitter" of flavor and smells. Initially, they used porkfat to capture the smells from flowers in the parfum capital of France; Grasse.

Anyway, I proceed with taking all the garlic off; it will burn and turn bitter in your pan if you don't. The marinating oil, pepper and thyme -which is a perfect match with beef-  stays on.

I then sear the meat in a hot pan with just a drop of extra oil in the pan. I first sear on one side, then turn and salt this seared side. Turn again when seared that side too, and salt immediately. Depending on the thickness of the steak, it gets in the oven. Let the meat rest. Done, full of flavor and tender, as the oil protects it from drying out!
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
Actually, a good steak----that is, top cuts like rib eye, top loin, strip, etc.---don't need any marinade at all. Tough steaks, on the other hand, those that benefit from marinating, such as flank steak, usually aren't pan-fried.

But if you do use one, French Fries is correct. Dry it off as well as possible. A moisture-coated steak will steam rather than sear.

Chris: While there's certainly nothing wrong with your approach (just the opposite, in fact, as it's a great way to sear a steak), I wouldn't call what you're doing a marinade. "Marinating" implies soaking for a long time in a strongly flavored liquid. I'd say what you're doing is creating an herbal crust.
Joined Oct 14, 2010
Thanks, guys.  I appreciate the advice.  And to clarify, what I'm doing is a genuine marinade (with wine and other non-oily bases).  I've got the steaks marinating for 36 hours before I try to cook them, and I'm crossing my fingers because it's the first time I'm trying this recipe out.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies//smile.gif
Joined Oct 2, 2010
... I wouldn't call what you're doing a marinade. "Marinating" implies soaking for a long time in a strongly flavored liquid. I'd say what you're doing is creating an herbal crust.
You're very right about the discription of a classic marinade (as a noun). It was indeed originally intended to preserve the meat a while longer, to tenderize the meat, or to tweak it when it was a little "off", or simply to give it a nice flavor.

However, marinating (as a verb) is soaking something in any liquid. I've seen using the verb for using classic marinade, oil based or as in the oriental kitchen in a combination of soya, oil, ricewine and other stuff. Marinating is even used to discribe using a "dry marinade" with just herbs and no liquid.

It's all terminology and a little confusing. I'm sure BDL will grab a dictionary to enlighten all of us with His wisdom.
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Joined Sep 18, 2008
... I'm sure BDL will grab a dictionary to enlighten all of us with His wisdom..
A "key point" in discussing "terminology", whether "culinary" or any other subject; one can "describe in detail" OR use a word that conveys a detailed meaning that ALL understand in the same manner to avoid having to "describe in detail".

When the meaning of a word becomes ambiguous, the need for "describe in detail" becomes more crucial, if we are to convey accurate information.

In the specific instance, i.e. "Shepard's Pie", an "ambiguity" has crept into the usage. Some use the term to refer to a specific dish, i.e. minced lamb topped with mashed potatoes (I hope I have that right /img/vbsmilies/smilies/blushing.gif ) while other are using it to refer to a group of dishes prepared in a similar manner with varying choices of proteins and/or starches.

Is one right and the other wrong? Not necessarily. Can it be "clarified? Certainly. Example: To me, "Venison â la mode Shepard's Pie" is pretty clear as would be "Shepard's Pie substituting venison for lamb". Are my examples more correct than other expressions? No, not really, they just define what I am attempting to say, at least I think so /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif.

WHOOPS! WRONG example, mixed up threads, see, You know what I meant to say even though what I said didn't pertain to what we were talking about, marinades!
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Joined Oct 2, 2010
Don't worry Pete, I got the message and I agree. I guess anyone posting here has allready met the difficulty to transfer ideas exactly as you would like the audience to recieve them. I like to learn a lot over here, so I'm taking in very different approaches compared to my culture. And, above all, I'm posting in another language. Well, english isn't such a problem, let's stick to the cultural thing.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
"Marinade" is one of those words that's been stretched a lot and has come to have an expanded and pretty loose meaning.  It used to require an "acid," but I don't think it still does.  Some people argue that the purpose of the acid and of marinating in general was to tenderize the meat, but that doesn't seem particularly convincing.  The pH differential you get from acid in a marinade acts to "power" diffusion and to more effectively distribute flavor, including better penetration

When it comes to definition, usage overtakes convention and becomes the new convention.  That's just how languages -- English especially -- work.  Knowing exactly where to draw the line as language evolves is impossible.  Cooking is a practical art.  So, as we come to understand new spins on old words those quickly cease to be spin and just get folded into the melange.  On the other hand, we shouldn't be so eager that words lose all meaning and two very different things become the same.

Chris's oil, garlic and herb technique sounds like a marinade to me.  And "dry marinades" are certainly popular enough that if I tell you marinate something by dry-rubbing it, covering it and holding it in the fridge overnight it shouldn't excite a great deal of comment.

I almost always use one sort of marinade or another with red meat.  Most often it's a minimal amount of Worcestershire and red wine in equal proportions while the meat tempers (if that long), followed by a dry rub.  The Worcestershire and wine mix with the meat juices and coagulate into something very syrupy which not only tastes good but helps glue the rub to the meat.  Since I use very little, there's no need to wipe the meat before rubbing it.  And with the rub applied, the meat is more than dry enough to properly sear and crust.

Finally and FWIW, the "shepherd's pie" thing between Ishbel and me wasn't about either of being right.  Rather it was a way for two people, one from the UK and the other from the US, who not only both love the language but each like another sufficently to play "full contact."  I respect her literacy, her cooking and everything else about her greatly.  If it seemed otherwise... my bad. 

In fact, we were both undoubtedly correct.  Her more highly defined usage is a little more restricted to one part of the Isles, but certainly valid. 

I give you a toast, ladies and gentlemen.
I give you a toast, ladies and gentlemen.
May this fair dear land we love so well
In dignity and freedom dwell.
Though worlds may change and go awry
While there is still one voice to cry

There'll always be an England
While there's a country lane,
Wherever there's a cottage small
Beside a field of grain.
There'll always be an England
While there's a busy street,
Wherever there's a turning wheel,
A million marching feet.

Red, white and blue; what does it mean to you?
Surely you're proud, shout it aloud,
"Britons, awake!"
The empire too, we can depend on you.
Freedom remains. These are the chains
Nothing can break.

There'll always be an England,
And England shall be free
If England means as much to you
As England means to me.

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Joined Oct 11, 2010
My go-to marinade of Worcestershire, oil, garlic and lemon juice I use mostly for chicken and pork but I've used it for steak as well and can't complain.  I only marinade for 30 minutes for all (sometimes less), then to the grill with the chicken or pork. It's overpowering if left to marinade too long but I enjoy the flavor it gives and it's quick and easy.  My $.02.
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