Chicken is delicious, but steak feels celebratory.
A Super Bowl party without chicken wings is like an egg without salt—awkward, and not as delicious as it should be—but supplementing with another protein is never a bad idea. Chicken is delicious, but steak feels celebratory.
Serving whole steaks to a crowd of football watchers is unwieldy and time consuming, but serving steak bites is easy and clever. Cutting beef into bite-sized bits makes it easier to serve and eat—no need to get cutlery involved, toothpicks will do just fine.
Sirloin is the most popular steak bite cut. It’s not too expensive and fairly lean, with a pronounced beefy flavor that makes it perfect for bite-sized enjoyment. Unlike a ribeye, sirloin doesn’t have much intramuscular fat or connective tissue to break down, and it does best with quick, high-heat cooking. This will help ensure your steak bites are tender, not chewy, though you really don’t have to worry about chewiness if you use a miso-marinade.
There’s magic in miso
I’ve said it before but I’m going to say it once more: Miso is an incredible one-ingredient marinade. Just smear it on, let it work its magic overnight, then wipe it off and cook your meat as usual. Miso tenderizes the meat while imparting a nutty, lightly sweet, slightly funky “aged” flavor, making your meat taste and feel much more luxurious than it is. (In fact, miso tenderizes so well, I made some “fake bites” using chewier and cheaper chuck stew meat cubes and could barely tell the difference between the chuck bites and the real-deal sirloin bites.)
In addition to tenderizing, miso flavors the meat so thoroughly, there’s no need for any additional seasoning. Just rinse off the paste, give the bites a quick sear in a screaming hot pan, then finish with a little browned butter for a bite that’s so meaty, so savory, and so tender, it just might unseat your wings as the favorite football-watching protein.
- 1 pound sirloin steak
- 1/4 cup red miso
- A drizzle of vegetable or canola oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Finely chopped chives or parsley for garnish
Trim any big pieces of fat, gristle, or silver skin off of the steaks, and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Do not worry if the pieces are not 100% uniform. (Meat is muscle, and muscles are not 100% uniform.)
Add the meat and miso to a large Ziploc bag, and smush it all together through the bag until the bites are evenly coated with the paste. Express as much air out of the bag as you can, then seal it up and let the meat marinate in the miso overnight (or up to 24 hours).
Grab your best searing pan (pretty much anything but nonstick will work), add about a teaspoon of neutral oil to the pan, then wipe it around the entire surface of the pan with a paper towel. Heat the pan over high heat until it passes the water test.
While the pan is heating, take the steak bites out of the fridge, dump them in a colander, and rinse off the miso under cold running water. Pat the meat dry with paper towels, then sear the bites for a minute or two on each side, just long enough to get some dark color on them. (Don’t worry if they look a little burnt in spots. A little char is great!) Work in batches if necessary to keep at least half an inch of space between each bite—a crowded pan can cause the bites to release moisture before they get a chance to brown, resulting in steamed steak bites (which no one wants).
Remove the bites from the pan once they are browned on all sides and set them aside. Repeat until all of your bites are browned. Now look at your pan. It probably looks quite blackened. You can try to clean it real quick, or you can decide that’s a problem for Future You and grab a new pan (this is what I did). Choose something pretty that can double as your serving vessel.
Heat this new pan (or the newly cleaned pan) over medium heat and add the butter. Let it foam and continue to heat until it turns a nice amber color and fills your kitchen with a rich, nutty aroma. Add the steak bites and toss them with the hot browned butter for about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and garnish with finely chopped chives or parsley. Serve with toothpicks.
Article and photo By Claire Lower