I have a book on my cookbook shelf that is very worn, the pages have yellowed and the spine has broken. There are drips and spatters on its interior pages. Clearly, it’s one of my favorites and it’s gotten a lot of use. It’s a compilation of family recipes, written in my grandmother’s hand. She gave it to me years ago and to this day, I refer to it for inspiration.
Growing up in Virginia, I spent a lot of time with Myne (my pet name for my grandmother) and Granddad. Their house sits on top of a bluff overlooking the water. I can remember as a kid playing on the wooden swing that was hung from a branch on an enormous 40-foot tree, catching blue crabs off the dock and helping my grandmother in the kitchen. Good times.
This is actually Great Aunt Betty’s recipe, but Myne included this marinade in the book and it’s one of the more weathered pages — for good reason. It’s exceedingly simple to make and really delicious. I’ve taken a few liberties with her recipe, adjusting quantities here and there, adding an ingredient or two, not to change it, but to enhance it. For instance, the original recipe calls for a half cup of “salad oil”. Back in the day, salad oil was “corn oil”. I can’t, in good conscience, add a half cup of corn oil to a marinade. So, I’ve swapped it for olive oil and reduced the amount by half. Ditto on the cup of soy sauce hers called for. I still want the flavor, but don’t need that much sodium.
So, now that I think about it, this version is inspired by the recipe in that hand-written book. That’s ok, there are plenty of others that I plan to share with you verbatim and Myne will get the credit! In the meantime, I don’t think she’ll mind my alterations.
I enjoy the combination of brown sugar and bourbon in this marinade, as they add a sweet and mellow flavor to the steak. It works particularly well with flank steak or london broil. The longer you marinate this, the more it will penetrate, but if you only have a few hours, it’s still very good.
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup bourbon (such as Jim Beam)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ~1 1/2 pound flank steak or london broil
- In a small bowl, mix the first 8 ingredients.
- Pour into a resealable plastic food storage bag. Place steak in the bag, remove as much air as possible and seal it. Flip the steak around a few times to coat it with the marinade.
- Place in the refrigerator for at least two hours and up to eight, flipping and rotating the meat every few hours.
- Heat barbecue to a medium high heat.
- Remove steak from marinade and blot off the excess moisture with a paper towel.
- Place steak on hot grill. Cook for 5-6 minutes on the first side for medium rare. Flip the steak and cook an additional 5-6 minutes.
- Transfer steak to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 5 minutes so that the juices redistribute throughout the meat.
- Thinly slice, going against the grain, at about a 35-45 degree angle.
- Cooking times depend on the size of your steak, and your preference on doneness. We like ours medium rare.