The ongoing argument of marination.
The length of time you are marinating plays an important role on the final outcome. I would have to agree that it is simply crazy to marinate a $40 Prime Rib Eye for 3 days. The beauty of an expensive cut of meat it that they are delicious all by itself. But personally I would have no problem throwing a marinade on a good steak overnight.
A simple cider vinegar based marinade can take a good steak and send it to the moon. The acid in the vinegar will help tenderize the meat and make the steak soft and delicious.
A couple of key ingredients to have on hand for a simple “good steak” marinade:
Fresh Garlic, Thyme, Apple Cider Vinegar, Sesame Oil, Honey, Brown Sugar, Soy Sauce, Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes.
The objective is to end up with a tender piece of meat that has some sugar content from the honey, and brown sugar. When grilling, that sugar will caramelize and seal in the juices that make the steak so tasty. To assure the steak is cooked correctly be sure that you only sear the meat for about 2-3 minutes per side. Once you have your sear, drop down to medium-low indirect heat, cover the grill and cook to your desired doneness. Everyone’s grill cooks differently so it takes a bit of trial and error to get to know how long your steak needs to cook. However, leaving that lid down to long while that grill is on high will quickly destroy a steak. It is also important to remember that different cuts of beef cook differently. for example a Rib Eye needs a lot more time to cook then lets say a London Broil, this is due to the fat content in the steak. A marinated steak does have more sugar on it then one that hasn’t been marinated. So it is important to keep a close eye so that the sugars do not burn.
Now that you have heard my opinion on marinating a steak, lets hear the other side of the argument. The biggest issue that steak eaters have is that marinade on a good steak ruins it and that it tastes delicious on its own with a little salt and pepper. I would have to say a good steak with a nice marbling and a high fat content is definitely packed with flavor. I can see how someone may not want that flavor changed. Some people don’t want that steak masked by any anything. Steaks do have their own natural sugars that will sear on a grill.
Ultimately it comes down to personal preference. Hearing both sides of the argument, I would have to say I am a huge fan of marinating a steak. Some people cringe at the thought of marinating a good steak. My belief is, as long as your marinade is not overpowering you can kick up the flavor of your steak even more without killing it.