The rosemary, garlic and onions in a red wine marinade make grilled New York strip steaks very flavorful—and healthier for you too. Recipe below.
Red meat lovers, rejoice! A pair of recent reports are giving it a cleaner bill of health than it has been enjoying lately.
The first was an article in the Wall Street Journal that opens with this bit of encouragement: “Maybe that juicy steak you ordered isn’t a heart-attack-on-a-plate after all.” In his article “A Guilt-Free Hamburger,” Ron Winslow reports on a new study by the Harvard School of Public Health that suggests that the heart risk long associated with eating red meat comes mostly from processed meats. So while bacon, hot dogs, sausages and cold cuts are unfortunately still bad for you, burgers and steaks may not be.
Researchers pooled data from studies around the world and found that “daily consumption of about two ounces of processed meat was associated with a 42% increased risk of heart disease and a 19% heightened chance of diabetes. By contrast, a four-ounce daily serving of red meat from beef, hamburger, pork, lamb or game wasn’t linked to any increased risk of heart disease.”
Winslow goes on to say the study is far from definitive. But hey, if Harvard says red meat is okay, that’s good enough for me.
The second report is more about our favorite way to cook red meat this time of year than the meat itself, but it is no less encouraging. Every year when grilling season kicks in, we hear stories about the health risks of grilling. And every year, we plug our ears with our fingers and sing “la, la, la” loudly until the stories stop. But this is a story you’ll want to hear.
At issue with grilling of meats (and other high-temperature cooking methods, it turns out—frying, broiling or barbecuing, for instance) is the creation of heterocyclic amines, possible cancer-causing carcinogens. Well, as Anahad O’Connor reported last month in The New York Times, marinating meat can prevent the formation of heterocyclic amines during cooking—especially if one of the ingredients is rosemary.
In his article “The Claim: Rosemary Helps Reduce Toxins in Grilled Meat,” O’Connor cites a study published in The Journal of Food Science stating that the use of rosemary in marinades reduced heterocyclic amines in grilled meat by more than 90% in some cases. Rosemary’s toxin-fighting strength comes from three powerful antioxidants—rosmarinic acid, carnosol and carnosic acid. He also states that garlic and onion offer some protection against heterocyclic amines, although less than rosemary.
I have to be honest here. Sure, I started reading O’Connor’s article with scientific interest. But once I saw the words marinade, rosemary, garlic and onions all connected to steak, all thoughts of science flew out the window and my taste buds took over.
Which brings us to this flavorful marinade. I figured if the three ingredients fought carcinogens individually, imagine how delicious—er, healthy—they would all be together. For the liquid, I kept it simple—red wine and a little olive oil. And I added some Dijon mustard and a generous grind of black pepper because it sounded like a good idea. It was. Big time.
Grilled Steaks with Rosemary Garlic Onion Marinade
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
4 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups dry red wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
4 New York strip steaks, about 1-inch thick, 8 ounces each (see Kitchen Notes)
sea salt or kosher salt
Marinate the steaks. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a 1-gallon zippered plastic food storage bag (or a glass baking dish large enough to hold steaks in a single layer). Add steaks, taking care to coat them with marinade on all sides. Seal bag and marinate steaks in the refrigerator for 8 hours, turning once.
Grill the steaks. Prepare grill. About 30 to 45 minutes before you’re ready to cook, remove steaks from marinade, pat dry with paper towels and let them come to room temperature. Discard marinade. When you’re ready to grill steaks, season them on both sides with salt and additional black pepper. Brush grill with oil and sear steaks over direct heat for about 4 minutes. You can rotate them a quarter turn halfway through if you want cross-hatch grill marks—or not. Flip the steaks, using tongs (never pierce with a fork!) and grill on the second side for about 3 minutes, or until they reach desired doneness (see Kitchen Notes).
Transfer steaks to platter and tent with foil. Let steaks rest for about 5 minutes or so. Plate and serve.
Mix it up, steakwise. This marinade will work beautifully with a number of steaks, including flank steaks and sirloin. Just adjust your cooking and serving methods accordingly.
Don’t overcook your steaks. Besides drying them out and making them nice and chewy, you’ll up the amount of carcinogens in them. That’s right—overcooking meat is another way to create those nasty heterocyclic amines. If your steaks are thicker than an inch, sear them according to the instructions above, then move them away from the coals (set up your grill with all of the heat on one side, if your steaks are thick), cover the grill and finish cooking them with indirect heat. That way, the outsides won’t get overly cooked while you’re waiting for the insides to finish.