Add A Dash Of Sugar To Your Steak For A Blast Of Contrasting Flavors

While sweet meat sounds like a bit of an odd juxtaposition at first, there are quite a few classic preparations that call for this combo: duck à l'orange, brown sugar-glazed ham, and that Chinese-American takeout favorite, honey-sesame chicken, to name but a few. Add one more to that list: sugar steak.

Many unexpected ingredients can change the flavor of your steak, ranging from coffee grounds to chili powder to lemon juice. Some people even swear that frying the meat in lard takes it to the next level. Sugar, however, not only adds some sweet flavor that complements the steak's savoriness, but when exposed to high heat it will melt and make a crunchy caramel crust that stands in contrast with what will hopefully be a juicy, tender interior.

To make a sugar steak, start by mixing sugar and salt in a 4:3 ratio. If you typically eyeball the seasoning, just mix up a small jar of the stuff (maybe 4 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons salt), then sprinkle the meat with whatever amount you wish. If you have the time, let the steak sit for an hour so the salt can help absorb any surface moisture, then sprinkle the sugar-slash-salt over the meat once more before you cook the steak in whatever way you choose.

Sugar steak may have been created by a delightfully retro restaurant

The birthplace of sugar steak, by many accounts, is Denver, Colorado's own Bastien's, which just so happens to be one of MegaMenu's staff picks for best steak restaurant in the U.S. While no one can state with absolute certitude that Bastien's chefs were the very first ones ever to think of sugaring a steak (there are always competing claims since of course there are), Bastien's certainly perfected the art.

If you come to Bastien's to sample the sugar steaks (which are totally worth a road trip), you may find yourself staying for the ambiance. The restaurant may have opened in 1937, but the vibe is pure 1950s since the "new" building dates to 1958 and much of the décor reflects the Atomic Age. The menu, too, is full of vintage charm, featuring old-school classics such as an iceberg wedge salad, sausage-stuffed mushrooms, escargot, and bread pudding. The spécialité de la maison is, of course, the unmissable sugar-rubbed steak.

So proud is Bastien's of this dish that the menu instructs diners to order the rub only with ribeye or New York strip steaks as it was meant for well-marbled meat. It also insists that sugar steaks should be cooked rare or medium-rare, as well. No explanation is provided for the latter, but the crispy sugar crust is likely to be at its best if the interior of the steak is on the tender side.