The Differences Between Seasonings, Rubs & Marinades
Not all cuts of meat are created equal – some can stand alone on their robust, beefy flavor, while other cuts can have their entire flavor profile changed with the addition of steak seasoning, rubs and marinades. But which cut deserves which method of seasoning? Below, Chef Karl has laid out a few tricks of the trade, as well as seasoning suggestions, that should help determine when or if you should consider seasoning your main entree items.
Seasonings are generally used to simply highlight the natural flavors already present in a great steak. It’s always best to apply any seasoning before putting your steaks on the grill – sprinkling your chosen seasoning lightly on both sides of the steak.
Rubs are often used to add flavors and surface texture to steaks. Rubs are usually coarser than seasonings and are applied much more liberally. For best results, brush the steak with cooking oil before adding the rub and spread the rub on a clean plate and place the steak on the plate. Coat both sides with the rub by gently pressing the steak on the seasoning plate. Next, grill, broil or pan sear the steak to your or your guest’s desired doneness.
Marinades have two purposes – to add flavor and also to tenderize. Marinades typically contain an acidic ingredient, which tenderizes tough cuts of meat. However, Omaha Steaks are naturally tender, therefore marinating takes one hour or less. In a pinch, vinaigrette salad dressings are an easy, instant marinade. For easy cleanup, marinate steaks in large zip-closure seal plastic bags with ½ cup of marinade for each steak. Put the bag in the refrigerator and flip after a half hour to insure the steaks marinate evenly. Make sure to avoid over marinating any items as this can lead to a less-than-desirable mushy texture. Once you’ve finished marinating, simply grill, broil or pan sear your steaks and place in a clean pan. Pour about a ¼ cup of fresh marinade over each steak and tent foil over the pan for about 10 minutes turning the steaks half way through. This technique will allow your steaks to draw in the marinade flavors.
Sauces are generally served as an addition to augment steaks that have already been prepared to enhance and bring out flavors. There are a number of different styles and flavor profiles that you can use to accent the style or theme of your meal. Common types of sauces include mushroom demi glaces, compound butters and au jus – often served with prime rib.
Now that you know the basics, feel free to experiment with various ingredients to fit your personal tastes. Some of the seasonings and marinades can come from everyday items that can be found in your fridge or spice rack. Happy grilling!