So, remember how I said I grilled the entire butcher’s case in Tucson? Obviously that was hyperbole, but I did spend an afternoon throwing meat on my Dad’s grill, including an entire whole chicken. But before I got to the bird, I started first with a little “light appetizer” of these steak skewers. They were more of a first lunch, really, but if you can control yourself and serve these to more than two people, you’ve got a fun party food, or an easy weeknight dinner on your hands if you can’t.
I don’t know this for certain but I assume that most families who grill regularly have a go-to, family recipe or method for how they treat their steak. In my family, it was always a marinade made from the humble, easy to assemble combination of melted butter and Coca-cola. Growingup, whenever my mom went out of town, my Dad and sister and I were off to the store for a six pack of coke and some thin cut steaks. When we got home, my Dad would fire up the grill, mix up the room temperature coke and some melted butter, season the steaks and then throw them on the grill to be slowly cooked while painting them with the coke and butter mixture. The end result was a well-done, caramelized piece of steak that was tender and buttery and charred and to this day still my favorite way to have a steak, and also the reason I get so mad when I go to a nice steakhouse or restaurant and I’m told I can’t possibly order my steak well done and have it come out tender. I KNOW this isn’t true and I get impatient with chefs who don’t bother to even try.
But, this is not a story about how I’ve gradually been forced over the years to learn to like a medium-well steak. This is a story about how I thin cut a rib eye into strips, and then took that coke and butter mixture and soaked my steak in it, then wove the strips of meat onto skewers and quick grilled them into some of the tastiest meat treats I’ve ever had! Or made, but I don’t really cook steak that much so it wasn’t hard to top that list. But these steak skewers are tender, charred, sticky, and buttery. What more could you want?
These skewers make it so you can take a sub-1 lb rib eye and turn it into a meal for four with a quick salad of arugula and parmesan served underneath, and as the hot steak sits on top the salad slowly wilts in a very agreeable way, and no one will mind that they didn’t get a steak the size of their plate. As a party food, it would be fantastic too, as you can grill up a ton of these in a flash and face it, guests always love food on sticks.
All credit to the Coke and butter marinade goes to my Grandpa, who I hear is the one to introduce this mixture to the family. Where he got the idea, I don’t know, but it was brilliant, that I do know.
Coke & Butter Marinated Steak Skewers
Makes 8-10 skewers.
- 1 lb boneless rib eye steak, or a little less
- 4 tbs butter
- 1 1/2 -2 cups coca cola, room temperature
- salt and pepper
- small wooded skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
- Heat your grill to high. Trim the steak of larger chunks of fat and then cut lengthwise into long strips about 1/4 inch thick, and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Melt the butter in a large bowl in the microwave, then add in the coke and stir to combine. Add the seasoned meat and marinate for 5-10 minutes.
- Thread each strip of steak onto a skewer, then grill for a minute or so on each side, until a good dark sear is formed and steak is cooked to desired doneness. These won't take long as they are cut thin.
- Serve with lightly dressed greens if desired, though these are certainly fantastic on their own.
- use whatever kind of coca cola you have, as long as it's not diet soda. Cane sugar based drinks may caramelize a little better, but we made this with regular, corn-syrup based soda my whole life and it always worked fine.
- I call for a rib eye here because you need a good, tender cut of meat. You are cooking these quickly, so there really isn't time to slowly cook a tougher cut of meat into submission. But one steak feeds many this way, so splurge on the good stuff!