It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe. But last week, inspiration struck as I sipped a lovely little beer called Paradox Smokehead… and decided I didn’t really like it. The beer comes from Brew Dog, which for my money is the UK’s most creative brewer, and it is one of many Paradoxes, a series of imperial stouts aged in Scotch whisky casks of varying origin. This particular batch was matured in barrels formerly occupied by the aptly named Smokehead whisky from the Islay region.
As a fan of big stouts as well as Islay whiskies, I had hoped this brew would be a nuanced and complex interplay between uniquely earthy Islay smokiness and the mocha, dark fruit, and roasted flavors of a good stout. Instead, it was disappointingly two-dimensional. Other Beer Advocates disagree with my assessment (mine is the lowest score this beer received), apparently uncovering subtleties that I failed to locate. To me, it was just dark, smoky sweetness. I didn’t feel the urge to finish it, but I recognized that where Paradox Smokehead failed as a beer, it would excel as a marinade for beef! That dark, smoky sweetness, I thought, would be the perfect accent to a good steak.
I was right. Last night I marinated a hunk of sirloin in the brew, with a few embellishments, then fried it up in a pan today for lunch. The result was a tangy, tender, sweet piece of meat with a touch of smoke – almost, but not quite, as if it had been charcoal-grilled. I liked it so much I may buy the beer again just to use as a marinade… I’ll bet it would be good with pork, too. Enjoy!
Paradox Smokehead Steak with Herb and Marmite Onions
Note: If you can’t get Paradox Smokhead in your area, try any stout aged in Scotch casks. You could also use a smoked porter, or you could simply mix a shot or two of Islay whisky into an ordinary stout for a similar flavor.
2 250-300 gram sirloin steaks, trimmed
12 ounces Brew Dog Paradox Smokehead
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme, torn
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon Bovril (optional)
cumin, to taste
smoked paprika, to taste
black pepper, for seasoning
butter, for sauteing
1/2 large onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon Marmite
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence or mixed Italian herbs (use more if herbs are fresh)
black pepper, for seasoning
- In an airtight container or plastic bag, mix together Paradox, thyme, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Bovril, cumin, and paprika. Submerge steaks in marinade and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
- Melt butter in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and add onions and pepper.
- When onions have softened slightly, add Marmite and herbs and toss well.
- Continue sauteing for 4-5 minutes, until onions begin to brown.
- When onions are quite soft and brown, move to the sides of the pan. Remove steaks from marinade and season on both sides with black pepper, then lay them in the center of the pan.
- Cook steaks as you like them. Spoon marinade over them while cooking.
- When steaks and onions are finished, remove from pan. Pour in some of the marinade and use it to deglaze. Pour the resulting jus into a bowl or cup and serve on the side.