Sugar Steak with Bourbon

By • March 11, 2011 • 74 Comments


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Author Notes: 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."

For the real sugar steak, Katy's version can be found here: http://food52.com/blog/1792-sugar-steak-with-bourbon
Amanda Hesser

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
  1. Layer together the flank steak, sugar, bourbon, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Rub the sugar and red pepper flakes into the steak. Put the steak in a 1-gallon plastic bag, add the remaining sugar mixture, seal the bag, and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
  2. Heat the broiler (or grill) and lay the steak on a baking sheet (one that you're ok with warping under the broiler). Generously season the steak all over with salt. Place the steak under the broiler -- it should be 4 to 6 inches from the flame -- and broil for 3 minutes on each side for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into 1/4-inch slices. Serve with mashed potatoes and sauteed bitter greens.

Tags: barbecue, bourbon, Easy, quick, steak

Comments (74) Questions (7)

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2 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Amanda, can the resting in the fridge occur in a small, covered glass box rather than a plastic bag? (You know what I think about using plastic bags for purposes like this . . . ) Thank you. ;o)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

2 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, of course -- that would work just fine!

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9 months ago Michael Cook

HENDSCH, a 3 year old???? Really? Wake Up.

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30 days ago veneta vassileva

what's wrong with giving your child nice tasty things, mr. Cook?

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10 months ago Gret

It burns off, & just the sugary taste is left.

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10 months ago hendsch

Guys, this sounds fabulous and I really want to make it. But is it ok for a three-year old? Is all of the alcohol evaporating during the broil?

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10 months ago eric rehwaldt

Ruth, if your fire alarm is as sensitive as mine then you have to keep it shut. Also, a broiler doesn't need air like a charcoal grill does. If you get a grill, the Weber is the only way to fly. It has three legs because you point the leading leg into the wind, open the bottom vent, and open the top vent. Want to cool it down, cut off the oxygen by adjusting adjusting the top vent first. Broiling is an art form. We bought a $38 George Foreman grill and have cooked everything from tasty Paninis to steaks galore, pancakes, and anything else you can think of.

Stringio

10 months ago Ruth Stromberg

Don't have a grill, if I put it in the oven on broil do I leave the door cracked open?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

10 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, I would.

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10 months ago eric rehwaldt

Great..totally understandable about having to use propane. Given an equal choice I will always use charcoal for the smoke factor. Probably give me some freaky cancer...but man does it make a fat Porterhouse sizzle. I am giving myself a new grill for my birthday as my Weber has served me since 1986. It's out in the western WA. rain and is used 5 nights out of 7. My wife was quite surprised at my choice of a charcoal/propane grill. I really like the propane hot plate for doing the odd jobs that are hard to do with charcoal. At the end of the day...it's all good.

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10 months ago eric rehwaldt

Another recipe is half cup of brown sugar, half cup of low sodium soy sauce (Kikoman rules all other), quarter cup of Apple cider vinegar, eighth cup of olive oil, and one freshly squeased lemon. Marinate OVER NIGHT. Kosher or sea salt just before cooking along with freshly cracked black pepper. Charcoal grilled if possible...with fruit tree chips. Tent with foil and wait 10-15 minutes before cutting it into 1/4 inch slices. Always cut against the grain which is very easy to determine. Best meal in the cow eaters world. Serve with Sakura sauce. Mayo, ketchup, lemon juice, soy sauce, and a dash of Tabasco. With fresh greens salad, and grilled corn...man oh man, life don't get any better. And drink a nice malty beer.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

10 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Eric, thanks for your comments, and I love the sound of Sakura sauce!

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2 days ago Cherie

Thanks for the Kikoman tip, I want to substitute the Bourbon with something non-alcoholic for my kids and this recipe has been sitting in my Pinterest board too long :)

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10 months ago eric rehwaldt

Always cut your flank steak AGAINST the grain. Unless you like your meat horribly tough. I grew up eating flank steak (6 siblings...back then it was a cheap cut) Best cut of bovine if you have a charcoal grill. Propane might be great for Hank Hill but it sucks. And the ONLY way to start charcoal is with a chimney. No gas taste, cheap, and eco friendly. Yes, I consider myself a world reknowed flank steak expert.

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10 months ago Gret

Sometimes where you live, "regulates" that you cannot use charcoal. So bring on the propane.

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11 months ago Emily_JK

Whoa. This was good and couldn't be easier (even for an ex-vegetarian!). Don't skimp on the quality of the booze...the flavor does shine through, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on whether the bottle is top or bottom shelf.

Stringio

12 months ago Shay Lopez

Made this for dinner tonight in a gas grill. There were no leftovers! Thank you for a great recipe that will be a repeat on out dinner menu.

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12 months ago figleaf

I love bourbon and an easy recipe. Trying it tonight! Will let you know. Figleaf from Portland, Oregon!

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about 1 year ago Muse

This sounds SO delicious, and I love my steaks medium rare! Yummy.

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about 1 year ago Randi Theobald

Having not made this yet, and I really don't like bourbon (too strong a flavor) how about soy sauce? It's a natural meat tenderizer and the flavor with the sugar and pepper flakes would be wonderful....

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about 1 year ago Kenneth

@littlesister: if the bourbon taste was strong you can add a teaspoon of filtered water (good Bottle water). It will cut the bourbon and may lighten it just right. Similar to adding a small touch of water to a good single malt whisky

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about 1 year ago Gret

Don't use hanger steak! I find it has it's own strong flavor, very fatty and too many crevices, which both absorb too much of the marinade. Use only the steaks suggested. Also not a lover of bourbon, I use red wine. Also don't rinse the steak, just use less sugar.

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about 1 year ago littlesister

Made this last night with some "faux" hanger steak (I'd never heard of this before, but others may know of it). It was okay but I thought it had a very strong bourbon flavor. I considered rinsing it after the marinade because I was a little bit afraid of the high sugar content, but I didn't want to miss out on a nice caramelized crust. Has anyone else tried rinsing it the way you would do a salt brine? The flavor wasn't bad, just strong!

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about 1 year ago Kenneth

Im going to try this except I'm cooking on a Big Green Egg.

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about 1 year ago Gret

I keep it open as small a small crack, not all the way But, do this otherwise when you open the door, you'll get a terrible "blast" in your face. Also if kept closed you might see smoke coming through top.

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about 1 year ago joy

when you broil, do you leave the door of your oven ajar?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I do.