ad hoc marinated strip steak

My husband, Sam, is a real meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. He knows what he likes to eat, and it usually involves traditional – and often southern – comfort food. I love this about him, but sometimes it’s frustrating. He gets nervous when I try a new recipe that has an ingredient in it that he’s less familiar with. Miso is a great example. When I made misoyaki roast chicken, he was a good sport, but I could see the fear – terror, really – in his eyes when he saw the ingredients.

One weekend recently, I asked Sam to decide what he wanted for our Saturday evening dinner. The weekends are my time to get in the kitchen and experiment, and that weekend I wasn’t feeling very inspired. So I let him pick. And, my meat-and-potato-loving husband chose steak. Of course.

On the upside, he chose a recipe from Ad Hoc at Home, one of my favorite cookbooks lately. Even though Sam played it safe with a steak recipe, he chose one by Thomas Keller — and I couldn’t argue with that logic.

The recipe is really about the marinade. Warming the marinade on the stove caused the flavors from the herbs to mingle together and blend harmoniously. The delightful aroma of the olive oil, garlic, and herbs filled the kitchen. Keller’s recipe calls for skirt steak, but since Sam couldn’t find it at our grocery, he bought strip steak instead. In reality, any cut of steak would be fine for this recipe. We marinated the steak for about 4 hours and, though we thought about grilling the steaks, I decided to follow Keller’s method of starting on the stovetop then finishing in the oven.

The verdict? Simple – it was a great steak. The meat was perfectly tender, and I could taste hints of rosemary, garlic, and thyme from the marinade. Next time, I might try marinating the steak for longer – just to see what the difference in flavor is – and I might have my husband grill the steaks instead. After all, if he chooses the recipe, he should do a bit of the work, right?

Ad Hoc Marinated Strip Steak

Only slightly tweaked from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home recipe on page 53. Instead of skirt steak, I used strip steak. I also cut down the amount of steak from six servings to two servings.


Ingredients for Marinade:

6 thyme sprigs
2 eight-inch rosemary sprigs
4 small bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
5 garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on
2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Remaining Ingredients:

Two 8 ounce steaks [We used strip steak, but you can use whatever cut you like.]
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on


Combine the thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, and oil in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and let the marinade cool to room temperature.

Trim steaks of any excess fat and discard. Cut the steaks crosswise into 2 to 3 equal pieces, depending on the size of the steaks. Put the steaks in a resealable plastic bag, add the marinade, and seal, squeezing out any excess air. Marinate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours, in the refrigerator.

Remove the meat from the marinade and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking. Discard the marinade. Dry the meat with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; set a roasting rack in a roasting pan. (For this step I used a cooling rack like this one set in a half sheet pan.)

Heat some canola oil in a large frying pan over high heat. (Have a splatter screen ready.) When the oil shimmers, add half the meat and quickly brown the first side. Turn the meat and, working quickly, add 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 thyme sprigs, and 1 garlic clove, and brown the meat on the second side, basting constantly; the entire cooking process should only take about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer the meat to the roasting rack and spoon the butter, garlic, and thyme over the top. Wipe the pan, and repeat with the remaining steaks.

Transfer the roasting rack and pan (or cooling rack and half sheet pan) to the oven and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the center of the meat registers 125 degrees. Remove from oven and let the meat rest on the rack in a warm place for about 10 minutes for medium-rare. (I cooked mine until a temperature of about 135 since I like my steak more on the medium side.) Serve, garnishing steaks with the garlic and thyme.

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16 Responses to “chasing ice cubes, and a recipe for swiss steak”

  1. 1
    Olga — October 2, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

    Mj that sounds so comforting. Maggie is so funny. Forrest just loves when we’re in the kitchen hoping for something tasty. Not sure what my ice is … I have so many. But one of them is my grandmother’s plov, an Uzbek rice and lamb dish.

  2. 2
    jenn s — October 2, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

    I’m so excited about trying this recipe!! Takes me back to dinners and suppers around my Mimi and Aunt Jewel’s table on Sunday afternoons when we visited them for church.

  3. 3
    Gail — October 2, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

    When you tweeted that you were writing a post on Swiss Steak, my heart skipped a little beat. But, I stopped myself from being too excited, just in case, it wasn’t Swiss Steak as I know it.

    My hands-down favorite meal growing up was Swiss Steak (we had it without green pepper and DEFINITELY no wine). I can picture the recipe, torn from the box of either Minute Rice or Uncle Ben’s, taped to a page in my mother’s recipe notebook. I could eat mountains of it, and so could my dad. He and I would be so excited when that familiar aroma of onions simmering in tomato sauce filled our small house. My brother, not so much, but I didn’t care. I was Daddy’s girl and our mutual love for this dinner brought us even closer together.

    But then I grew up, left home and was experimenting in my own kitchen. Swiss Steak was abandoned.

    It wasn’t until my father was sick, very sick, that I ate Swiss Steak with him again. I didn’t have the recipe book any more. It didn’t matter because I knew the recipe inside and out, having watched my mother make it for many years.
    My father, as weak as he was, still managed to eat a good plateful of Swiss Steak served over a mound of rice. I was happy to cook for him and desperate to nourish him. I watched his face as he closed his eyes while he slowly chewed each mouthful. I knew he was remembering all the nights we ate that meal made by my mother all those years ago.

    Swiss Steak was the last home cooked meal that he ate, and I’m so grateful that I was there to share it with him.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — October 3rd, 2012 @ 6:51 am

      Oh, Gail. What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing those memories with me, with us. xo

  4. 4
    Belinda Markham Wood — October 2, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

    This is THE recipe that most reminds me of Grandma! Gotta have the green peppers though! :-).

  5. 5
    Kathryn — October 3, 2012 @ 4:14 am

    I have to admit to never having heard of Swiss Steak but I love the way that you describe it and your urge to make it for your husband. A lovely post, as ever.

  6. 6
    DessertForTwo — October 3, 2012 @ 7:57 am

    This looks so comfy and delicious. Hot buttered rice is the key to my happy place 🙂

  7. 7
    Jennifer Hess — October 3, 2012 @ 10:02 am

    Ice cube! I love it 🙂

    I never had swiss steak until my former mother-in-law served it. Her sauce had sauteed mushrooms in it as well, and she served it over mashed potatoes instead of rice, but I’m loving your version, and will have to make it soon. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  8. 8
    Chris — October 3, 2012 @ 11:53 am

    Our cat loves chasing balls of aluminum foil around the wood floor.

    Haven’t had swiss steak in over 12 years, it was my older kids’ favorite. Yours sounds about the same as ours, except I always put in more green pepper just because that’s my ice cube:)

  9. 9
    Kiran @ — October 3, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

    The story about your cat and ice is soooo cute 😉

  10. 10
    Isabelle @ Crumb — October 3, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

    Funny how all cats develop at least one weird obsession, isn’t it? One of ours comes running whenever she hears the can opener… not because of cat food, but because she has an unnatural love of canned chickpeas and canned corn.
    My ice cube is fresh bread, right out of the oven, with a pat of melting butter. I know all is well with the world when there’s fresh, warm, crusty bread in my life.

  11. 11
    Paula — October 4, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

    Girl, when you write a post you write a post! What a charming story about your cat and your husband’s memories of this dish that you so lovingly created for him.

  12. 12
    Laura — October 5, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

    I am fairly certain my only experience with Swiss Steak has come from a TV dinner…. or perhaps that was Salisbury Steak. I’m excited to try your recipe 🙂

    And my parents’ dog has the same ice obsession… Only she chews it, leaving little shards of ice to melt into puddles. Inevitably someone, wearing socks, gets quite the surprise (and wet socks) when then walk into one of the puddles 🙂

  13. 13
    Di — October 5, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

    Once again The Merry Gourmet” stirs” all of our senses. Your words create picture- perfect images accompanied by movement, sounds and smells that make it so easy to imagine your story for ourselves.

  14. 14
    Kelly Senyei (Just a Taste) — October 15, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

    This reminds me of the Hungarian beef goulash my mom always made when we were growing up. It looks so rich and satisfying – perfect for the cold weather ahead!

  15. 15
    Macaroni Mama — February 20, 2013 @ 6:21 pm


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