In my humble opinion, there are few things that can really improve grilled New York strip steak. When I think of a good strip steak, the adjective “toothsome” comes to mind. You really have to chew this steak, and that is one of the best parts about it. It’s juicy, savory and primal. My favorite way to serve it is to season it simply with kosher salt and cracked pepper and cook it over a direct flame because I like the slight smoke flavor imparted by the grill.
But even perfectly indulgent meals can benefit from a little butter. I first discovered the magic of steak with butter several years ago at Ruth’s Chris steakhouse in Chicago. I ordered the strip and it arrived at the table sizzling, topped with a pat of butter that oozed into the crust and down the sides as it melted. The rich mouthfeel of the butter enhanced the meat’s inherent decadence. A nap was required immediately after dinner.
An easy way to add flavor and a little more complexity is to make compound butter. Essentially, you blend room-temperature butter with herbs, seasoning, citrus zest, garlic–whatever flavorings you like. I love to use it on grilled meat, toasted baguette or pasta. And because it sounds quite intimidating to make, your chances of sounding impressive to dinner guests are greatly improved.
Don’t let the anchovies in this recipe scare you. You will barely know they’re in there, but you will appreciate their lovely briny saltiness.
To complement the steak, I served a simple arugula and shallot salad with lemon vinaigrette and my oven fries with parsley and garlic.
Grilled steak with anchovy butter
2 New York strip steaks
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 canned anchovy fillets, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons shallot, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Salt and pepper, to taste
Canola oil, as needed
Method: Heat the grill to high. Allow the meat to come up to room temperature for about 30 minutes before you’re ready to start grilling.
Meanwhile, combine the butter, anchovy, shallot, lemon juice and zest in a bowl. Taste, and then season as needed with salt and pepper.
Lay out a large strip of plastic wrap on the counter. Spoon the butter onto the plastic. Roll it out to form a log. Twist both ends to close them, and place the savory butter log in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to harden.
When the grill is preheated and the steaks have come to room temperature, coat them with canola oil and season them generously with salt and pepper. Grill the steak for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until medium rare.
A few minutes before pulling the steaks off the grill, remove the compound butter log from the fridge and slice off two half-inch coins.
Top the sizzling steaks with the butter, cover them loosely with aluminum foil and let them rest at least five minutes before serving.
Instead of pre-slicing the steak, I like to arm guests with a sharp knife and let them go at it themselves for a more carnal experience. Plus, they get to smear melted butter on each bite.
Night number two: Pasta with compound butter
A few nights later, I used the leftover butter in a simple pasta dish. I sautéed a shallot and garlic in olive oil with lemon zest and red pepper flakes, then tossed in spaghetti, a little pasta water and a few coins of the compound butter. I finished the dish with a little lemon juice, chopped fresh parsley and chives–and then enjoyed a lovely Wednesday dinner for one.