When to put BBQ Sauce on Steak? The question seems simple enough...but wait there's more.
When to put BBQ Sauce on Steak is a deep abiding question that requires further investigation. Most of the experts I talk to in the BBQ biz who have made hundreds of steaks, chicken and ribs have thought critically about when to put BBQ Sauce on steak. Let's talk about the consensus of Executive Chefs, grill masters, bbq cooks, restaurateurs and general industry folk. In almost every case (97% to be exact) said, adding BBQ Sauce to a steak while on the grill was a NO, NO. But they did agree that having the right BBQ Sauce on a steak added immense flavor without covering up the taste of the steak.
The above response leads us to the question when should it be applied? If adding BBQ Sauce on steak the question is how do you want your steak to turn out? Is your steak a tender filet, or a tough sirloin? If the answer is tough sirloin then you'll want the BBQ Sauce to marinate on the steak assisting in breaking down some muscle fiber which acts to tenderize the meat. A Brine will achieve the same thing in terms of marination but one must be careful to remove the brined meat in a timely fashion so as not to make the meat soggy. If using BBQ Sauce on the sirloin place the meat in a container, either plastic bag with a seal or container with a lid. The container should not be more than 2 times the size of the steak. First check the ingredient label of the BBQ Sauce, note where things like Vinegar, and oil, and any mustard are listed relative to all the other ingredients. This will tell you whether or not your sauce is a marinating sauce or a strictly tasting sauce. When Vinegar appears at the end of the label you can bet the sauce has more taste capabilities than marinating. Overall this will mean that you need to add at least 30 minutes to an hour more of marinating time to achieve results when the amount of vinegar or mustard is small.
After marinating remove the steak from the marinate and discard the marinate. The marinate should not be used for anything else. For safety and health reasons just toss it away. You don't have to scrape any off your steak just wrap it in foil or put it in a clean bag or container and rest it in the fridge until your grill is ready. Once the grill is set place the steak on. Keep in mind a really good steak needs a really high temperature. Most stoves can't achieve the temperatures that a restaurant can (700-800 degrees) but you can achieve that level if you have either a cast iron pan or a nicely managed wood fired grill. When grilling steaks after they've been marinated it is not necessary to add additional BBQ Sauce during the grill process. If you want heavy BBQ Sauce flavor you can baste on some sauce a couple of time during the grilling process. Most good steaks cook for about 8-10 minutes a side when the temperature exceeds 500 degrees. For Medium Well the steak should be on the grill at least 8 minutes per side. Check our temperature and cooking charts for steaks to be sure. Once grilled remove the steak and place in a warm container, not a cold one. Cover the steak and let it rest about 8-10 minutes. DO NOT cut into the steak after pulling it off the grill without it resting. If you do the juices will run out of the meat leaving the pieces tougher than they would have been if rested. Restaurants will only rest a steak for 2-3 minutes before serving but they do rest them.
The Second Method I mentioned earlier is the method we prefer. Steaks are expensive and most people buy them because they want the true taste of steak. We seasoned our steaks with our Tri-Tip, Steak and Rib Rub then we let the steaks marinate in the seasoning for at least an hour. The steaks are covered and placed in a fridge on a middle shelf during the marination process. We like using wood fire (Red Oak) or Charcoal with smoking chips. If using smoking chips make sure you soak the chips in water for at least 2 hours. Then put a handful of chips on the coals or in a smoke box once you have reached the right temperature for grilling. If I can't use a grill then I use a cast iron pan on high heat. I season the pan with a little butter first then add one (1) steak at a time. Before cooking I cut off a small portion of the steak and cook that alongside the larger steak. This allows me to check the cooking status of the steak without cutting into the larger steak releasing the juices. I cook the steak about 8 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the steaks. Once cooked I rest the steak for about 10 minutes. I take the BBQ Sauce that I want to use and put it in a warmed container. That sauce becomes more of a condiment at this point and my guests are afforded the opportunity to lather on as much sauce as they prefer during their eating process.
The long and short of this conversation is what kind of steak are you going to cook and how do you want it to turn out. The best steaks are planned especially where the cooking/grilling process is concerned. The best marinating bbq sauces have a decent level of vinegar and mustard to break down muscle fiber. Most chefs and grill masters typically don't marinate steaks in bbq sauce but actually prefer salt and pepper shaken onto the steak about 5 minutes before grilling.
Jake's makes some really nice Barbecue Sauces that are excellent on steak. Follow these links to get your favorite Steak Barbecue Sauce:
- Really Good Mild Barbecue Sauce
- Really Nice Medium Hot Barbecue Sauce
- Really Hot Barbecue Sauce
- Maple Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
- Memphis Blues Barbecue Sauce
- Texas Style Inspired Barbecue Sauce
- Asian Style Barbecue Sauce
- Sriracha Ketchup Spicy Sauce
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Learn more about: Different Cuts of Meat