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Chef Pete

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Top 10 Steak “Toppers” for Labor Day Grilling

August 29, 2017
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I like grilling steaks just as much as anyone I suppose—unless, perhaps, you’re a vegetarian. Now grilling is even more fun when all the family gets together for the long weekend such as the upcoming Labor Day. The problem I have is that most people who enjoy grilling, only have one thing in mind–grilling.

The steaks go on the grill, the steaks come off the grill, and usually, the only thing the steaks get (if you’re lucky) is some seasoning.

In the end, you have a hunk of meat on a plate with maybe a potato of some kind and a vegetable.

See anything missing here?
Well, for me, a steak is just the beginning–the foundation. It goes without saying that it needs to be seasoned and grilled properly, but the job is not over when the meat hits the plate.

A steak without a topper is like a salad without a dressing.

What’s a steak topper?

A steak topper can be one of a number of things actually. It can be a butter, a sauce, a salsa, a spread, a fried vegetable, or even a salad! The idea is to complement the meat’s flavor, to add additional moisture and to give your palate a little more variety, so it doesn’t get bored halfway through the steak.

Think of it like potato chips. Those first bites are AWESOME. Then, after a while, you’re looking for the dip.

To give you some ideas for steak toppers you can make at home, I’ve made a list of some of my favorites. Most don’t require a recipe, and I think with just a few words of explanation, you’ll get it.

The first one is obvious. One of the most popular steak toppers is a savory mushroom sauce. This one does require a recipe, but the good news is, once you’ve made it, you can freeze it in small containers and simply reheat it whenever you’re in the mood for a great steak with a great sauce. The link for my Awesome Savory Mushroom Sauce is here.

Onion rings are another popular steak topper, but honestly, they’re a pain to bread. Fortunately, there is an easier and more delicious alternative. My Chipotle Chili Fried Onions are addictive! Simply slice a peeled and halved sweet onion into thin slivers, and soak for an hour in buttermilk. Then, drain and flour them in a mixture of 1 cup flour mixed with 1 tsp. chipotle powder, 1 TBSP of chili powder and 1 TBSP ground cumin. Fry in hot oil (350 F) until crisp, and reserve on absorbent paper towels until you’re ready to top your steaks.

Butters are another fantastic steak topper. One of the easiest and BEST ways to top your steaks is with Nino’s ZAP Butters. Our Original flavor is perfect for steaks and brings out all of your steak’s hearty, meaty flavors. Our other flavors, Bacon, Mushroom and Garlic, are equally delicious.

ZapButterBacon

One of my sleeper choices is something you’ll fall in love with if you like Roquefort or blue cheese with your steaks. My Spinach & Roquefort Dollop is simple:

Start with 1 cup of Nino’s Spinach Dip. Stir in ½ cup crumbled Roquefort cheese and ¼ cup crumbled bacon pieces. Add a nice dollop of this on top of a steak right off the grill and add some freshly cracked black pepper.

I love the taste of basil, and it goes so well with steaks. You can make one of the most delicious gourmet steak toppers by using this simple Pesto Butter recipe and combining it with a few other finishing topper garnishes. Simply beat together 1 stick of butter with ¼ cup of basil pesto. Pesto_Basil_resized(I prefer our Cibo brand or Nino’s own fresh-made basil pesto.) To finish your steaks, drizzle 1 teaspoon of Balsamic Vinegar GLAZE over the steak (you can buy this at Nino’s). Then top with a tablespoon of the pesto butter. Finish the topper with a few roasted garlic cloves and a few shavings of fresh Parmesan cheese. MAGNIFICENT!

Shake things up a bit with a steak topper with a Far East flair! My Teriyaki Topper starts by making a simple mixture of ¼ cup Teriyaki Glaze (available at Nino’s, of course) with 2 tsp. sesame oil, 1 TBSP Sweet Chili Sauce, 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger and 2 tsp. chopped cilantro. Just stir these ingredients together, and brush about 1 TSBP over your steaks.

Here’s another one I particularly love, and it has an unusual twist. My BLT Topper starts by sautéing 4 strips of chopped, smoked bacon until crisp. Save the rendered bacon grease in the pan and add to the bacon ¼ cup chopped sweet onion. Sauté until the onion is tender, and then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Add 1/3 cup chopped, seeded ripe tomato. Stir in while seasoning with freshly cracked pepper and 2 TBSP mayonnaise.

Finally, when your steaks come off the grill, top with a half cup of freshly shredded iceberg lettuce and a quarter cup of this BLT topper dressing.

Other great steak toppers include:

  • Deep Fried Sage Leaves (with Nino’s Zap Butters)
  • Guacamole with Chipotle
  • Barbecue Sauce Mixed with Ground Chipotle & Cumin
  • Pineapple & Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

These great toppers deserve a great steak. For more information on grilling and how to pick out that perfect steak for these toppers, check out these helpful links:

Know Your Steaks

Nino’s Grilling Guide

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