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Bourbon Molasses Marinated Steak Recipe

Bourbon marinated strip steak, grilled and served on a bed of polenta with grilled oranges

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This could really be called an Old Fashioned steak, because many of the ingredients for this bourbon molasses marinated steak recipe were inspired by my inner Don Draper. If you don’t know that reference, it’s from the series “Mad Men” and Don never met an old fashioned he didn’t like. In any case, it’s hard to beat what I call MBF night: meat, bourbon, and fire. This steak embodies that.

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For this recipe, I’m using strip steaks from Omaha Steaks, but feel free to use it on top sirloin, flank steak, or even ribeye. I’ve been getting meats from Omaha Steaks for a long time and honestly you can’t go wrong with anything from them. If you don’t have the time to create your own meals, they also have entire prepackaged meals which are excellent and save a ton of time.

Along with the bourbon molasses marinated steak recipe, we’re also going to be talking technique on this post—which is important for how we’re cooking any of these steaks. The char you’ll get with this recipe is incredible; it’s elevated by the sugars in the marinade caramelizing over a hot grill.

Using Bitters for Cooking

Bitters are traditionally found in craft cocktails; you don’t see them used much for cooking. To be honest, I think not including bitters in sweeter marinades is missing a huge opportunity. Bitters tend to balance a sweet marinade and add an interesting complexity to the flavor profile. In this case, we’re using Angostura bitters which are just ever so slightly spicy and balance well with the sweetness we’re getting from the molasses and the smoky oak notes from the bourbon.

How To Cook a Marinated Steak

This might seem like a no brainer, pull the steak out of the marinade and toss it onto a hot grill and listen to the sizzle, right? WRONG! As I’ve written extensively, wet steak and searing is like oil and water. When you take the steak out of the bourbon molasses marinade, you need to be sure you blot off any excess cold marinade with a paper towel.

You’re going to want the steaks to be as dry on the surface as possible before introducing them to heat. Moisture on the surface of the steak will lead to steam, and steam is like an antibody for searing.

Because these steaks are only about an inch thick, we won’t be using the reverse sear method that I often use for thicker cuts of meat. Instead, we’re going directly over the hot grill and we’re going to flip often…every 20 seconds or so. After the first few flips, just as we see a crust developing, we’re going to add to that crust by basting on the reserved room temperature marinade after each flip.

Because the surface of the steak is already seared, and with the sugar content in the marinade, it will caramelize nicely and build an amazing crust. Ever so sweet, with the smokiness from the bourbon and umami from the tamari coming through, it smells as good as it tastes.

What To Serve With Steak

I love serving this over polenta; it’s truly one of my favorites. But it also goes really well with the best garlic mashed potatoes ever, and pairs well with grilled baby bok choy. If you haven’t tried that, it’s a must with steak.

Bourbon Molasses Marinated Steak Recipe

Serves: | Prep Time: 4 hours | Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
2 New York strip steaks
2 tsp micro greens or parsley (optional for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

For the marinade:
1/2 cup bourbon—I use Horse Soldier
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup molasses
1 tbsp tamari
2 tsp Angostura bitters
4 orange slices
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced​​
1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced

ingredients for bourbon marinade gathered

How To Grill a Marinated Steak

Step 1: Mix all ingredients, except orange slices, in a small bowl. Set aside 1/3 cup of the marinade and leave at room temperature.

Marinade ingredients whisked together in a metal bowl

Step 2:
Place steaks in a zip top bag and pour remaining marinade over them. Add in orange slices, remove as much air as possible, and place bag on a plate (in case of leaks). Place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours to overnight.

Strip steaks marinating in a bag with orange slices and bourbon marinade

Step 3: Remove steak from marinade, discard marinade that’s been in contact with the raw meat and blot steaks dry with a paper towel. The steaks will be a deep brown color at this point. Allow steaks to come up to room temperature for about an hour. While steaks are coming up to temp, light grill and set for maximum direct heat. Allow gas grill to preheat for at least 15 minutes. For charcoal grill, be sure coals are piled high and as close to grilling grate as possible.

Bourbon marinated strip steak on a rack, patted dry

Step 4: Place steaks over direct heat, flipping them every 20 seconds. Using a reliable quick-read thermometer, start checking internal meat temperature after about 3–4 minutes of grilling. When meat temperature reaches about 100°F, start basting the steaks with the reserved marinade before every flip.

Basting strip steaks on a grill with orange halves

TIP* I highly recommend a long handled high-temp silicone basting brush for this to keep your hands a safe distance from the extremely hot coals.

Step 5: When steak temperature reaches 120°F remove from grill, tent with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5–6 minutes. Because we grilled these steaks with intense direct heat, the energy created is going to induce carry-over cooking for several minutes after the steaks have been removed from the grill. After a 5-minute rest, the steaks will be at a perfect medium rare range of about 127° or so.

Basting a strip steak with a long handled hi-temp basting brush

Step 6: Slice, garnish, and serve. Feel free to season with salt and pepper but go easy. The tamari, while not as salty as soy sauce, is still a bit salty so be sure you taste before seasoning.

Grilled bourbon marinated strip steak, sliced and served on a bed of polenta

How to Make Bourbon Molasses Marinated Steak

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5 from 2 votes
Bourbon marinated strip steak, grilled and served on a bed of polenta
Bourbon Molasses Marinated Steak Recipe
Prep Time
4 hrs
Cook Time
15 mins
 

This fun recipe for strip steaks features bourbon, molasses, bitters and tamari.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2
Ingredients
Marinade
  • 4 ounces bourbon
  • ½ cup grapeseed oil
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp Angostura bitters
  • 4 orange slices
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger minced​​
  • 1 tbsp fresh garlic minced
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients, except orange slices, in a small bowl. Set aside 1/3 cup of the marinade and leave at room temperature.

  2. Place steaks in a zip top bag and pour remaining marinade over them. Add in orange slices, remove as much air as possible, and place bag on a plate (in case of leaks). Place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours to overnight.

  3. Remove steak from marinade, discard marinade that’s been in contact with the raw meat and blot steaks dry with a paper towel. The steaks will be a deep brown color at this point. Allow steaks to come up to room temperature for about an hour. While steaks are coming up to temp, light grill and set for maximum direct heat. Allow gas grill to preheat for at least 15 minutes. For charcoal grill, be sure coals are piled high and as close to grilling grate as possible.

  4. Place steaks over direct heat, flipping them every 20 seconds. Using a reliable quick-read thermometer, start checking internal meat temperature after about 3–4 minutes of grilling. When meat temperature reaches about 100°F, start basting the steaks with the reserved marinade before every flip.

  5. When steak temperature reaches 120°F remove from grill, tent with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5–6 minutes. Because we grilled these steaks with intense direct heat, the energy created is going to induce carry-over cooking for several minutes after the steaks have been removed from the grill. After a 5-minute rest, the steaks will be at a perfect medium rare range of about 127° or so.

  6. Slice, garnish, and serve. Feel free to season with salt and pepper but go easy. The tamari, while not as salty as soy sauce, is still a bit salty so be sure you taste before seasoning.

Recipe Notes
For this recipe, I'm using strip steaks from Omaha Steaks, but feel free to use it on top sirloin, flank steak, or even ribeye. I've been getting meats from Omaha Steaks for a long time and honestly you can't go wrong with anything from them. If you don't have the time to create your own meals, they also have entire prepackaged meals which are excellent and save a ton of time.