Cooking From Every Angle

Sugar Steak with Bourbon

March 11, 2011 • 32 Comments

Sugar Steak with Bourbon

- Amanda

I thought I had my Midwestern foods down pat. I knew my fried cheese curds and fried bologna sandwiches. But at a recent food event, I was thrown off my game. Katy Keck, a culinary consultant, told me about sugar steak, a dish completely foreign to me. What, you've never heard of it either? Good. Time for us all to get up to speed.

Sugar steak is very much what it sounds like: steak that's blanketed with a sugar rub and grilled. Katy, who got her recipe for it by surveying the chefs at the Spring Lake Yacht Club close to Lake Michigan, said, "Some use sirloin, some use rib-eye, I have even used CAB top round –- most agree whatever is cheapest. Also some use white sugar, some use brown, some use both." She uses dark brown sugar.

Katy has also come up with a fool-proof technique. "I have a Weber-performer and don’t use the lid on this, nor am I stingy with charcoal," she said. "It’s really impressive when you get 3 steaks going at once (total 14 pounds of meat), though I nearly set the porch roof on fire. Rip-snorting is the official temperature for the grill."

By the time I'd received her instructions by email, I'd already bought a flank steak, which was far too thin for her recipe. I also had my mind set on incorporating bourbon -- if I had a steak and brown sugar, how could I not add bourbon? Unsurprisingly, I ended up with a much different recipe than what she'd sent. My steak, which is bathed in sweetened bourbon and fired up with some red pepper flakes, gets less of a crust. But it does have a pleasantly boozy and assertive kick.

For the real sugar steak, Katy's version follows mine.

Sugar Steak with Bourbon

Serves 3 to 4

  • 1 flank steak (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

 

Sugar Steak

By Katy Keck

Serves 8 to 10 with leftovers

  • One 3 to 4-inch slab o’ beef (sirloin, rib-eye, top round), trimmed (about 4 pounds)
  • Kosher salt
  • Spice rub if desired (I love the South African Cape Herb Company’s “Mexican Wave”)
  • Honey Bear honey
  • 1 pound dark brown sugar

1. Put the meat on a small serving tray (avoid heavy plates because you will be flipping two plates and 4 pounds of meat -– I love the small melamine trays). Rub with salt and spice. Drizzle with honey (1 to 2 tablespoons). Pack about half the brown sugar on the top side of the meat.

2. Place a second tray on top and flip the meat onto the second tray. Repeat the above process, using all the brown sugar. It's not necessary to do the sides as it will fall off anyway.

3. Let sit about 30 minutes or until the sugar starts to liquefy.

4. Flip the tray onto a rip-snorting fire (charcoal or wood preferred) and scrape the stuck sugar onto the (now) top side. Grill until it releases enough to flip, about 7 minutes.

5. Continue flipping every 7 to 8 minutes, until desired doneness, about 25 to 35 minutes for 3 to 4 pound steak.

6. Remove and tent lightly with foil on a tray to catch juices. Rest for 10 minutes. Slice across the grain and drizzle with the jus.

7. Day 2: What you have left overs?? Arugula, maytag, heirloom, sugar steak salad. YUM!!

Jump to Comments (32)

Comments (32)

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about 1 year ago mgo19991

Katy your steak sounds great! I am in West Michigan. I will be spending a couple of days in Saugatuk , Douglas and South Haven. Where are you? Lake Michigan is one of the most beautiful places no earth.

Dsc03010

over 3 years ago betteirene

Again, because I can never seem to keep a well-stocked pantry, I had to make do with what I had on hand, which was sirloin and Southern Comfort. It was excellent.

I served it with steamed first-of-the-season sugar snap peas with Maldon and butter, a lettuce wedge with gorgonzola buttermilk dressing, and baguettes halved and grilled cut-side down. Amanda, I would love it if you would suggest accompaniments to your recipes here, like the suggestions you provided in TENYTCB. I realize it would add another layer of work, but I had a hard time imagining what would taste wonderful next to this steak.

(BTW, the dressing is made from the dip recipe that accompanies this recipe submitted by lastnightsdinner. For salad dressing, I use just one clove of garlic instead of four.
http://www.food52.com/recipes... If you haven't made this recipe yet, you should. It's really good, whether or not you love chicken livers.)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Accompaniments and menus are something we've been thinking about a lot -- totally agree with you!

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over 3 years ago richkeck

The Best!!!! You haven't eaten a steak until you've tried a sugar steak. I was taught how to perfectly cook one of these a few summers ago. I learned using a Weber Grille which always helps deliver perfect meat. Katy is a great teacher and a lot of fun to be with on her deck enjoying a West Michigan Sugar Steak!!!

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over 3 years ago debo

Katy Keck has been a friend of mine since we born.. She has been extremely successful as a chef in France, owner operator of New World Grill in NYC, television food artist and consultant, food photographer, owner operator of Savoir Faire Foods, cookbood editor and winner of numerous awards in the Food world.
I have been lucky enough to have experienced the amazing Sugar Steak on the grill at Katy's beautiful summer home in Michigan with our highschool girls only weekend of decadence 3 years running . It is an entree that will keep your guest coming back year after year, absolute mouth watering.

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over 3 years ago MakeThatMakeThis

This is a such a great idea for flank steak. It's on the menu for the weekend. Thanks for sharing.

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over 3 years ago Lynnie Lou

Brings back memories of delicious summer evenings in Spring Lake (on Katy's porch) - Charcoal bonfire and all! Luv u KT!!

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over 3 years ago lovelilocks

I've had the delectable pleasure of having Sugar Steak at Katy's... it was, without a doubt, THE best steak I have ever had.... whenever I go to grill steak on the BQ, I think of that night... delish!!

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over 3 years ago sadhbhín_connor

Very excited to try this! You don't see steak served like that here in Ireland!

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over 3 years ago susan_levytsky

I received a similar recipe when I first got married and moved to Michigan — 23 years ago! Our family recipe uses lots of brown sugar, bourbon Dijon mustard, sliced onions and Worcestershire sauce for the flank steak marinade. Always makes for a slightly sweet, slightly smoky, magnificently crusted family favorite. No leftovers ever!

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over 3 years ago carol_mahar_jesep

Can't wait to make your version using bourbon. Sounds tasty. NY Foodie.

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over 3 years ago Candy2006

looks good. I have been living in Bloomington, IN since being dragged here from northern NY (Plattsburgh) . In our tenure here I have never seen sugar steak on any menu. But we do have some specialties, sauerkraut balls...odd but tasty and of course the Tenderloin sandwich. It is pork, they use loin cuts and pound them into submission. These are what Jane and Michael Stern wrote about for Gourmet. The place in Brown County where they had them closed but, happily, they are back.

I use pork tenderloins and panko to make them at home. Basically they are a pork schnitzel on a hamburger bun. The pork is enormous and the bun sits in the middle of a lake of breaded and fried pork. You kind of nibble your way around the thing until you get to the bun.

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over 3 years ago Teribelle

:) i luv u, food loon.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Food loons, unite!

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over 3 years ago Danag

I've had the great pleasure of eating sugar steak on Katy's porch and let me say...the original is delicious! Katy is an amazing and versatile chef with a heart of gold...and she is just as fun as she sounds!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Indeed!

Hilary_sp1

over 3 years ago Hilarybee

Sugar steak was a big thing in Michigan where I grew up. I remember it always being served with tart cherry compote.

Like the bourbon idea, but I'd be hard pressed to convince my husband to sacrifice it for a good steak.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Ah, tart cherries. That sounds perfect!

Hilary_sp1

over 3 years ago Hilarybee

Amanda, I'll try making a compote this weekend to go with the steak. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sarahnewspaper

over 3 years ago Sarah Plumley

I made this http://www.chow.com/recipes... last year for a Kentucky Derby party, and added about 1/2 cup brown sugar, which makes it very similar to yours. Very yummy! It was the hit of the party, besides the races. ;)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Great idea for the derby!

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over 3 years ago MakeThatMakeThis

It's a great idea for the Derby!

Ozoz_profile

over 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

She looks like your TWIN..............wow. And that steak looks stunning. Saying that I'm in Texas (first US trip) and I have enjoyed great Texan hospitality and lots of delicious steak. In my bag is a coffee rub, that I think would be great with some brown sugar and a dash of rum in this recipe. BTW, I made a trip to wholefoods and spent my $100 gift card winnings (from the swordfish contest) - some photos will follow. What I want to say after the preceding words is thank you A&M and fellow food52ers, thank you

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Hey -- congrats on your trip. Texas is a great place to start in the US. Looking forward to the photos!

Dscn2212

over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Wow, Amanda! I'm going to try this will a bison top round.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Sounds like a terrific idea. Please report back!

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over 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh, baby, there's a flank steak in my freezer with your name on it.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

ha!

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over 3 years ago Rhonda35

Right up my alley, Amanda! Might have to make the original version of the sugar steak while sipping on the bourbon.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, note to all: you know what to do with the leftover bourbon...

Mrs._larkin_370

over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Yippee! It's like Recipe Redux all over again, sort of! Thanks, Amanda. They both sound super yummy. Could we request something non-meat for next Friday? (it being Lent and all.)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, and thanks for the reminder.