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Make your Fourth of July menu sizzle with grilled steaks

By Wolfgang Puck, Tribune Content Agency on

Are you still trying to decide on your Fourth of July main course? Or did you decide just moments ago to upgrade it? I've got good news for you: It's not too late.

The secret is to start with the right high-quality star ingredient. If you want chicken, seek out plump boneless breasts or thighs, with or without the skin, depending on your preference, that will grill quickly and evenly. Or look for fresh fish fillets of your choice, choosing those that appear moist and firm, with the fresh, clean scent of the sea.

If you're set on serving meat, quick and easy grilling starts with the right cut. Seek out high-quality, tender meat that's full of flavor and cooks quickly and easily. Pork loin chops or lamb tenderloin medallions are two examples that fit that description.

One of my favorite beef cuts is New York steak, also known as New York strip, a cut from the upper part of the short loin section combining superb tenderness with rich flavor. All you need to do is grill the steak directly over high heat turning it once, until well-seared and done to perfection -- which, to my preference is medium-rare, registering 135 F to 140 F (57 C to 60 C) on an instant-read grilling thermometer.

Of course, for any great ingredient, how you season it and the sauce or condiment you serve with it can easily elevate it from good to great. As you'll see in my recipe for grilled New York steaks with cilantro-shallot sauce, such results are surprisingly easy to achieve.

The first step is simply drizzling a little peanut oil, which has a rich flavor that complements the meat, on the uncooked steaks. (You could certainly use a good olive oil instead if you prefer). Then, I sprinkle on a generous amount of kosher salt and pepper on both sides. During grilling, the seasoning combines with the juices to form a flavorful crust to savor with each bite.


While the grill is heating, I also use that time to prepare an easy sauce for the steaks. In this recipe, that means simply sauteing shallots and garlic, cilantro, ginger and red pepper flakes, then quickly simmering the mixture with some stock or broth and bottled Chinese hoisin sauce (found in the Asian foods section of any well-stocked market), which adds richness and body.

If you like, you could serve the finished steaks whole and pass the sauce on the side. But I prefer to take the extra step of slicing each steak and serving it with the sauce so the juices mingle with it. I guarantee that your guests will be as amazed by the food on their plates as they will be by the fireworks up in the sky.


Serves 6


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