Sugar Steak with Bourbon

By • March 11, 2011 • 83 Comments



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.
Jump to Comments (83)

Tags: barbecue, bourbon, Easy, quick, steak

Comments (83) Questions (9)

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3 days ago Nancy

Can this marinate over night?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

2 days ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, I think that would be fine.

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about 1 month ago Jason Wiley

This looks so good! I can't wait to try this on my Weber gas grill. It would probably also go well with mix chopped carrots and corn. Thanks for the recipe by the way.

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2 months ago Rodger

Suggestions on a good wine to go with this? Nothing too too expensive?

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3 months ago patty

if using a gas grill do you put meat directly on grill over indirect or direct heat?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

3 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, you can put it directly on the grill over direct heat.

Stringio

3 months ago Marc Gordon

what's the remaining sugar? I only saw sugar mentioned once.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

3 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

The remaining sugar is whatever doesn't stick to the steak after rubbing it. There's always a bit that drops off.

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3 months ago lisa

we put a cast iron pan on the grill, heat it up for 10-15 min until it is smoking hot. We put nothing in the pan but salt, drop the steak in cook for a total of 5 min (1 inch steak) turn every min and perfect med rare every time. (nytimes recipe)

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7 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

7 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

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

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about 1 year ago Michael Cook

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

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5 months ago veneta vassileva

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

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about 1 year ago Gret

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

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about 1 year 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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about 1 year 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

about 1 year 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

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, I would.

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about 1 year 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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about 1 year 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

about 1 year 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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4 months 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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about 1 year 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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about 1 year ago Gret

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

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about 1 year 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

over 1 year 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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over 1 year ago figleaf

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

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over 1 year ago Muse

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

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over 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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over 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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over 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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over 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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over 1 year ago Kenneth

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

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over 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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over 1 year ago joy

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

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I do.

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over 1 year ago Robin_M

Katy's version is not shown. I would like to compare!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Hi! Here's the link to Katy's version: http://food52.com/blog...

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over 1 year ago Rose of Sharon

I would like to try this...I don't see Katy's version...the real sugar steak...following yours Amanda. Could you add it to this page? I made the Beef Bourguignon with my favorite Suite Petite - Chronic Cellars and it was the best ever! And the Ricotta Lemon Bars (had some meyer lemons) were completely addicting...I'd like to use the filling and make a tart with some blueberries in the spring. Thank you! Thoroughly enjoy opening your emails!!!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Here's Katy's version (and glad you've found some good recipes!) http://food52.com/blog...

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over 1 year ago Gret

Save it for the grill!

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over 1 year ago Randi Theobald

For me, when you see a new recipe it's not time to jump in and try to alter/change it... try it, and if it's not to your taste, tweak it... and yes, I made Beef Bourguignon from Julia (she must have been in the army - makes Coq Au Vin look like fast food) and over the decades have tweaked it to my taste... but the technique is still there...

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over 1 year ago horatio mailleblower

abatjour: I'm sure you meant: "my best friends always do flank on Friday evenings and pierce it first with their coat of maile device". Really, though, coats of maile (mail or maille) don't have nails. That would be an iron maiden that would have both a sort of coat of maile AND nails (inside). And definitely good for piercing meat, be it alive or dead.

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over 1 year ago abatjour

i agree with the chastising comments but humbly still want to
pose this questions. sorry joe, sorry sara.

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over 1 year ago abatjour

sounds quite lovely. flank steak is grand. but, has anyone tried
the recipe in a well-seasoned (flax seed oil is the trick) cast iron skillet? my broiler is not worth the name and outside is
not an option just now. maybe i'll have to do it with a small
experimental bit. my best friends always to flank on friday evenings and piece it first with their coat of nail device.

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over 1 year ago Joe Marnell

I vote for comments only AFTER trying a recipe. By the way, the Beef Bourguignon was outstanding!

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over 1 year ago Sara Gillis

I agree!

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over 1 year ago Kathy S.

Sounds very like the teriaki flank steak I used to make, where you mix brown sugar or maple syrup with soy sauce, add a coup[e of mashed garlic cloves and cover the meat. Let marinate in fridge at least an hour, better several hours and broil. Bourbon sounds interesting, but the whole thing seems like a lot of sugar intake for today's tastes... Maybe I'll just start with a good Manhattan and leave the steak alone!

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over 1 year ago Pam Hunt

my daughter and I might try this for Valentines day and her boyfriend too!

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over 1 year ago ceelena

i am trying it this weekend

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almost 2 years ago Rhondu

I have been scouring the internet looking for a copycat recipe for Stouffer's Bourbon Steak (frozen meal that is a HUGE hit with my hubby) Have any of you tried it and how does it compare to this recipe taste wise if you have. Any help would be great. With the cost of steak these days, I would hate to keep trying and failing to find that taste.

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almost 2 years ago Emily Wright

I thought this was awful. An almost sickeningly sweet taste which is strange on steak. Flank steak was strange too, seemed like it should be on a salad - not served as a main course. Maybe this glaze would be better on a thick steak like a NY Strip? Either way, won't make again.

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about 2 years ago Fran McGinty

I had a request of Steak for dinner tonight. I think this one it will be. Can't wait to try it.

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about 2 years ago orlenda

this sounds devine!

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over 2 years ago wanderash

This has Valentine's dinner written all over it! Sweet boozy meat! I'm definitely going to get lucky after serving this! :)

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about 2 years ago Wendy Perry

lol... "sweet boozy meat!"

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over 2 years ago whyo4

this christmas i made an eight pound true prime ribroastfor my frirndswho had come for christmas eve and day. it was garlicand herbcrusted prime ribwith abrown butter sauce The roast was about 7&1\2lbs . Irubbed it with a rubofsmall amountof garlic butterin the mixer addthe course sallt and the pepperand theminced garlic, the lemon juice the choped thymeand the chopped rosemary. runtill its well mixed. Remove from mixer and spread all over the prime. Took about 1&1\4hour to get to a perfect rare \medium rare just the way we like it.


































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almost 3 years ago Cheazza

This might be a little late, but congratulations on making Gojee's Top Meat Recipe of the Week back in August!

http://www.gojee.com/recipes...

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

thank you!

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almost 3 years ago CharlieR

Amanda: I have a 6 - 6 1/2 LB. prime rib dry aging in my refrigerator.
I would like to use this recipe on it.

How many times do you think I should multiply the recipe?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I'd triple it.

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about 3 years ago rreid01

Amanda--
Are you saying that you grill the steak directly over the flame after applying the sugar rub and marinating? Doesn't the sugar just turn into a black gooey mess on the outside of the meat?/

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about 3 years ago Whats4Dinner

I don't have an answer, in fact I had the same question.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

It will blacken in parts but will not be a mess at all (see the photo above). If you're grilling it and it starts to blacken, just move it to a cooler part of the grill. The marinade ends up being quite liquid so it mostly drains off before you cook the steak.

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about 3 years ago lhartman

Hi Amanda,
My friends all adore my 'sugar steak' but I tend to be a bit more . . . flamboyant (?) with it. I think it tends slightly more towards Korean bbq as I add equal amounts of soy sauce and sake to the mix, rather than bourbon, I wonder if yours will just have the same result with less effort on my part? For what it is worth, I use chopped garlic and ginger, 1/2c of soy and sake, 1 T balsamic, brown sugar and sometimes a touch of honey (to caramelize even more). As you can see, more work! Can't wait to try your far simply sugar steak asap. thanks.
Laura

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Well, yours sure sounds delicious to me. If you try this one out, let me know what you think.

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about 3 years ago Helen H

I made this while I was home in Texas for my family; we are usually very talkative during dinner that they tend to last for 2-3 hours. I grilled the flank steak, and saved the marinade, which I cooked in a saucepan, making sure to add a couple pats of butter... (I felt like Paula Deen was behind me, cheering me on in the process). Totally worth it-the sauce was absolutely gorgeous, almost like a caramel; a great counterpoint to the incredibly moist, grill-kissed steak. The recipe was more than just wow-factor, because no one spoke for the short amount of time that the steak was on the table.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Like the butter part -- thanks for sharing your story!

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over 3 years ago Gcvlee

After marinating for a couple of hours, I grilled the the steaks to med. rare. ( I used hangar steaks). There was a bit of flame from the bourbon and sugar but it was managable. I cooked the remaining marinade in a saucepan with a couple of Tbsps. Of water for several minutes, then swirled in 1 Tbsp. of butter off the heat. After a few minutes of rest, I sliced the steak and drizzled the sauce over the steak. A bit of sweet, with the bourbon and hit of heat. Great recipe Amanda. Thanks! Very delicious.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Like the sauce detail. Great thinking.

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over 3 years ago adamnsvetcooking

Made it for Sunday dinner! Everyone loved it! Thank you :)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Great to hear, and thanks for reporting back!

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over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I made this over the weekend using a bison flank steak. It was fantastic! Bison has a natural, subtle sweetness to it (high in iron) that marries perfectly with the bourbon and brown sugar, and I upped the red pepper flakes quite a bit. The next day I sliced the leftovers and stuffed them into a baguette along with some of aagersi's amazing pickled onions (no kitchen should be without them!) and whole grain Dijon. Oh my ......... Thank you so much for this, Amanda!

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over 3 years ago Rhonda35

Dinner tonight: grilled sugar steak with bourbon, salad of roasted beets and greens, roasted baby potatoes, sauteed Tuscan kale. Can't wait to eat!!

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over 3 years ago Rhonda35

Okay, no roasted potatoes - I somehow managed to throw the whole baking sheet of crispy potatoes across the kitchen and all over the floor. Plan B? Bread.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Love the menu -- can we have it again next weekend? Sorry about the potatoes, but funny post!

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over 3 years ago Rhonda35

Sure can! - as long as I can find decent beets...if not, we'll substitute! I'll need a little advice with the sugaring - I'm kinda with the person at Foodpickle - I found the layering and then rubbing part a little confusing. If I combine all the ingredients, how can I then separate out part of them to rub into the steak? Maybe I should marinate the steak with bourbon, then, before grilling, rub with the sugar, salt and red pepper flakes?
Despite the confusion and the lost potatoes, dinner was very, very good. Can't wait to see you next weekend!! YAY!

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over 3 years ago adamnsvetcooking

This is going to be dinner very soon :)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Great -- enjoy!

Me

over 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

This looks just fabulous! I've used brown sugar lots of times, but never thought to include something like bourbon. Genius!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

My motto -- when in doubt, add bourbon.

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over 3 years ago Sagegreen

Love the simplicity of this! Perfect.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Have fun with it!