Everyone knows that steaks are typically grilled on an outdoor charcoal or gas grill, but this can be inconvenient during the cold winter months or when the weather will not cooperate. There are many other easy and wonderful ways to prepare steak in the oven during those times. Red meat is an important source of protein in our diets, and while it should be eaten in moderation, can be a great addition to a balanced diet.

One of the most important things to include when preparing red meat is the marinade. The marinade will help ensure that your meat stays tender and juicy as it cooks. Since steak is a hearty meat, it can stand a marinade for up to 24 hours, so if you know you will be short on preparation time, you can prepare the marinade and begin your preparation a day in advance. Be careful not to marinate the meat too long, though. An over-marinated steak will become either too mushy or too tough during cooking. The marinade will also flavor your meat and can be used to make an okay meal into a show stopper!

A marinade typically has three components:

-the oil base-used to moisten the meat and keep it juicy during cooking
-the acid base-used to tenderize the meat by breaking down the bonds of the tough proteins within the meat, allowing it to remain tender through the high temperature used in cooking
-the flavors-you can use almost anything to flavor your meat.

Examples of these three components are as follows:

-the oil base: any kind of oil commonly used in preparation, butter, or a dairy product. Many times low-fat dairy is used in order to cut down on the fat content of the dish.

-the acid: any kind of fruit juice or flavored vinegar will work well with beef.

-the flavors: this is where you can really get creative! Herbs and spices are popular choices, as are wines (especially a port or a red with the beef), or condiments such as a mustard or a prepared dressing.

Be careful not to add salt to your marinade. Reserve added salt for right before you begin to cook the meat. A salt in a marinade will keep the meat from absorbing as much of the moisture and flavor and will make the meat more tough and dry after cooking.

The best way to cook a steak in an oven is to broil it. Place the top rack of your oven close to the broiling element (about 8 inches from the top), and place the steak on a greased broiling pan. In order to make clean-up much quicker, you can cover the broiling pan with aluminum foil and throw it away after you are finished with cooking, leaving the pan clean. Broil the steaks, flipping often, until the inner temperature at the thickest portion of the steak reaches at least 145˚F and all juices run clear. This 145˚F temperature is acceptable for medium steaks. Adjust the temperature accordingly if you wish for your steak to be more rare or more well done.

This method of preparation is easy and will ensure a delicious meal! Pair a broiled steak with potatoes, a starch such as brown rice or pasta, and some green vegetables or a salad for a nutritious and balanced meal!

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