If Amanda was forward-thinking enough to make an extra cake, I like to think she had this steak marinating, too. It’s an easy way to turn a fairly inexpensive cut into a tender, flavorful special-occasion meal (and what could be more special an occasion than having you-know-who over for dinner!) This recipe makes enough for the whole family, or for two with leftovers.
1½ to 2 pounds top round or top sirloin steak, at least one inch thick
1 cup balsamic vinegar or ¾ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Trim as much fat as possible off the edges of the steak and put it in a large zip-style plastic bag. Set the bag in a shallow pan just big enough to hold the steak to catch any leaks. Stir together the remaining ingredients and pour this marinade into the plastic bag. Seal the bag so the marinade surrounds the meat. (Or, put the steak in a shallow baking pan just big enough to hold it and pour the marinade over it, then cover with foil or plastic wrap.) Let marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 to 3 hours; overnight or all day is okay, too. If you are using the plastic bag method, it is nice to turn it over once or twice during the marinating time, but not absolutely necessary. If you’re using a pan and the meat is not quite submerged, you’ll need to turn it two or three times to marinate it evenly.
When you’re ready to cook the meat, heat a skillet large enough to hold the steak over medium-high heat just until hot. Carefully remove the meat from the marinade, letting the excess liquid drip off, then put the steak in the hot pan. Pan broil 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare (a little longer if your steak is thicker than one inch). You may cook it longer if you prefer your meat well done, but the steak is likely to be tougher the more thoroughly it is cooked. Serves 6 to 8. Leftovers are delicious added to a main-dish salad or in a sandwich.
A note on ingredients: Balsamic vinegar is now available in most supermarkets; you don’t need the most expensive brand for this recipe. It provides a wonderful flavor and is worth seeking out. Red wine vinegar tends to be more acidic and less sweet than balsamic vinegar, so if you do substitute it, use less, as specified in the recipe.