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I love vinegar.

As a child, when I used to visit my grandparents on the weekends by taking a ferry to one of the Gulf Islands, I used to take packages of white vinegar from the on-board cafeteria and suck on them during the 50-minute boat ride. Yes, it kind of makes me shudder now. I have always preferred Salt & Vinegar chips to any other flavour. And I swear I’m addicted to dipping focaccia in olive oil swirled with deep purple-black Balsamic vinegar.

I love steak too.

So, it only seemed natural to marry the two together in some divine marinated bliss.

The marinade ingredients

I think I first came across the idea several years ago when I found a recipe online for steaks marinated in, among other ingredients, Balsamic vinegar, garlic and olive oil. But it involved searing on the stove and then finishing in the oven and, after making it once, I decided that was a bit of a hassle that didn’t interest me. And then, last week, I impulsively bought some steaks. (Honestly, I love them, but do find them a bit baffling.)

I’m sure part of the temptation was because the label on them gave some instructions on how to cook them (which is the part I find most baffling. I have no idea what this stems from; it all seems straight forward when I’m watching TV chefs do it). Anyway, I came home and realized I would now have to actually DO something with them. So I popped them in a freezer bag with olive oil, Balsamic and several cloves of chopped garlic. Then I put them on the counter to marinate and started making the lemon custard cakes. But, by the time those babies were in the oven, I was no longer interested in dinner. (Full disclosure: one of those became my dinner that night.)

Best lazy move ever.

They marinated for 24 hours before I could finally throw them on a piping hot grill pan (a city-girl-with-no-balcony-and-no-barbecue’s best friend). A few minutes on each side and a wee rest under a tin foil blanket and dinner was ready. (Yes, there were side dishes, but, the steak was the star of the show.) Medium-rare goodness with a garlicky-sweet-vinegar undertone.

It was so good I made it again a week later.

There is no official recipe here. Gauge measurements based on how much steak you have. This is a rough estimate for the two steaks I made. And, yes, I love garlic. You may want to ease up (or add more).

The marinade

Balsamic steak

Balsamic Steaks

  • 1/2 cup olive oil (don’t bother with extra virgin here; all that lovely grassy flavour will evaporate in the smoke)
  • 1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped (I don’t completely mince them because burnt garlic is disgusting and this way, bits that cling to the steak still taste good.)
  • freshly ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a freezer bag. Add the steaks and let it marinate. One hour is probably the minimum, 24 hours is fantastic.

Heat a grill pan/normal pan/barbecue/hibachi etc. until it is sizzling hot. Add steaks. Cook to your preference. I add the salt after cooking, so it doesn’t draw out any of the steak’s moisture. Let the steaks rest for several minutes after pulling them off the heat, so the juices can redistribute. Otherwise, if you cut into it immediately, they’ll all drain out and the steak will be dry.

Good with baby potatoes, which can sop up all the luscious vinegar-steak juices.