The best sides, salads and drinks to serve with a giant, beefy steak
The best way to enjoy the Southern sun is with an outdoor gathering or party, especially when that party involves plenty of grilled meat and, hey, maybe a vegetable or two. But sometimes we get distracted with the thought of perfectly grilling our steaks to medium rare, so we throw together sides and drinks at the last minute.
No more! As important as the steak is as the centerpiece of the meal, you should also want to enjoy what you’re eating with the steak.
To help you out, we’ve gathered our favorite sides and drinks that both pair well with red meat and are also easy to make while you’re (wo)manning the grill.
Roasted Asparagus with Brie and Croutons
Bewtween the creamy Brie and ever-so-slightly bitter asparagus, this light, warm side dish will not only pair well with any steak you’d like, it also comes together in a jiffy.
Truffle Mashed Potatoes
Potatoes of any sort pair well with steak, but if you want a more sophisticated and starchy side, we recommend these truffle mashed potatoes. Rich flavors of butter and truffle come together to create an exceptionally creamy and savory side dish.
Pairing steak with a salad gives diners a lighter option than starchier sides like potatoes. Southern Kitchen’s chef Jeffrey Gardner recommends making a simple arugula salad with tomato and Parmigiano Reggiano on top. Or, if you want to take advantage of the summer veggies that are just about to come into season, we recommend making a grilled zucchini and summer squash salad. Throw slices of zucchini and yellow squash on the grill with the steak and let them get nice and charred. This recipe also uses toasted pecans to compliment the flavors of the grilled vegetables. By lightly toasting the pecans before adding them to the salad, you’ll notice an intense nuttiness that shines through the subtler flavors of the grilled vegetables.
When choosing a beer to drink while eating steak, you want to choose one that will bring out the flavors of the steak and not overwhelm the main entrée. Mike Reis of Serious Eats recommends a stout or porter with an ABV range of 5 to 7 percent. “Your steak is bursting with fat and umami, and roasty bitterness from the darkened malts used in stouts and porters offers the perfect contrast, much in the way the explosive tannin of a heavily-oaked Cabernet would,” Reis wrote. For leaner grilled steaks, Reis recommends drinking a brown ale, as they “offer many of the flavor matching benefits that porter and stout do in a package that’s a little less in your face,” he said.
Choosing the right wine that pairs well with steak largely depends on the cut of beef and preparation of the steak. “Fatty, headier cuts like a rib-eye need a wine with enough tannins to slice through the richness, so younger cabernet sauvignon, syrah and zinfandel are good choices,” Gardner said. “You’ve got many more options with a leaner cut of steak [such as filet, strip or skirt steaks]. Malbec, aged cabs, sangiovese, Bordeaux blends, Rioja ... even rosé pairs well with many steaks.” Another out-of-the-box recommendation from Gardner is a riesling. “I love Riesling with the smoky char of a grilled ribeye,” he said.
Break out your martini glasses for the perfect cocktail pairing for steak. A classic martini is commonly found on the menu at steakhouses across the country, and for good reason. One of our favorite martini recipes comes from cocktail expert Jerry Slater and is perfect for cocktail purists.
Topo Chico Paloma
Instead of a margarita, we prefer this refreshing tequila cocktail to go with a piece of grilled steak. This light highball is made using Texas-made Topo Chico sparkling water along with grapefruit simple syrup, lime and tequila. Make sure to dip the rim of the glass in salt, which will further bring out the beefy flavors of your steak while you sip and eat.
Classic Arnold Palmer
For a non-alcoholic option, try this Southern summertime classic, an Arnold Palmer. Chances are, if you are at a Southern gathering, this drink will be on the menu. After a few sips you’ll find the bittersweet flavor of an Arnold Palmer compliments the browning on steak.