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Vanilla Deserves A Place In Your Next Steak Dish

A board of steak, a fork, garlic cloves, and condiments
A board of steak, a fork, garlic cloves, and condiments - Kasia2003/Getty Images

Vanilla holds such an irreplaceable spot in the world of dessert and sweet treats that sometimes it's hard to imagine it in anything else. To one's surprise, however, it's a perfect fit for so many savory dishes — steak being a prime, shining example. It highlights the meat's natural depth by drawing a subtle yet exquisite contrast between sweet and savory, delicate and rich. Beyond the perceived sweetness, vanilla also contains floral and woody notes that lace the meat with an elegant undertone. This complexity appeals to both your sense of taste and smell, enhancing the overall eating experience and making the dish much more sophisticated.

Moreover, with unparalleled versatility, vanilla offers endless possibilities for changes and experimentation. Its delicate, soft taste goes well with many different ingredients, from familiar staples to unconventional additions. You'll have no problem incorporating it into pre-existent recipes but will also have a lot of fun crafting something brand-new and perhaps just a bit out of your comfort zone. Whether you prefer a classic preparation, a bold adaptation, or any other off-kilter combination, it's all possible.

Read more: 13 Underrated Cuts Of Meat You Should Be Grilling

Marinade, Sauces, Butter, And More!

Vanilla extract and vanilla bean pods
Vanilla extract and vanilla bean pods - New Africa/Shutterstock

Starting with the classic vanilla extract, there are a couple of familiar methods to get creative with. A vanilla-infused marinade is excellent for infusing the meat with that signature creamy, floral aroma. Allow the steak to marinate for a few hours or overnight; you'll end up with a perfectly tender and delicately creamy steak. If you have neither the time nor patience for a marinade, consider a sauce instead. It could be a spin on classic sauces like hollandaise or balsamic or a simple reduction made from simmered honey, brown sugar, and other condiments. The steak will get a velvety, luscious coating that's both visually appealing and sensory-provoking.

Although the extract is most commonly used, vanilla also comes in a few other forms. One that's quite fitting for a good, flavorful meat rub is vanilla bean seeds. Combined with other robust spices, they add a tumultuous blend of flavors as well as a subtle caramelized crust. Alternatively, you can crush the seeds with salt to make vanilla sea salt for sprinkling onto the meat before cooking. You can also mix the scraped seeds with butter to baste the steak in, much like you would with regular butter. Or, do what chef Angie Mar does in this grilled ribeye and prawns recipe and serve a dollop or two over the cooked meat. The butter imparts a luscious richness, while the vanilla adds a delicate sweetness that complements the steak's savory notes.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.