Absent from most pub menus nationwide is the New Englander’s favorite pub food. What comes to mind for most of you outside of NE is chowder, lobster or maybe fried clams. While all three are local favorites Steak Tips or Sirloin Tips are the Boston pub food.
I have seen heated arguments about which bar/pub had the best “Tips”. I have even seen clientèle follow a cook from bar to bar sometimes even crossing city lines for good steak tips. So what are these chunks of steak? New England steak tips are nothing like what I have seen in the frozen dinner isle.
Those tiny chucks of beef in brown gravy would never be served in a Boston bar or restaurant. Bar food in Boston is some of the best food served in the city. One of the great things about bars in the state of Massachusetts is all bars must serve food. In the case of some of the smaller bars your bartender might be your cook. Tips are fast and easy to cook but require the perfect preparation.
There are three main schools of marinating tips as far as I have seen Italian, BBQ and Teriyaki. Most New England butchers will offer tip pre-prepared and marinated in all three of the above sauces. The teriyaki is of course marinated in a mixture of soy, brown sugar, vinegar and spices. The Italian is in most cases marinated in Italian dressing or a mixture of oil and vinegar.
I am very picky with my Italian dressings so I and very picky about my “Italian Tips”. The gold standard for tips is in open grill BBQ-ed tips. This is a recipe hijacked from a Boston bar renowned for its grilled BBQ-ed tips is without a doubt one of the best. This is a very simple recipe that will bowl over your friends and family.
Steak Tip Marinade
3 lbs of Sirloin
1 16 oz bottle of coke classic
3 cups of barbecue sauce
¼ cup of malt vinegar
Wash, trim and devein your beef you will be starting with a very lean beef but you will want to trim the excess fat. Cut the sirloin into three to four inch chunks.
Place the tips into a large Ziploc bag with the coke, barbecue sauce and vinegar and mix everything together. Now here is the hardest part you have to walk away from your tips for three days while they marinate in the fridge.
The acid in the vinegar and coke will go to work on the tips over the next 3 days making them even more tender. As the tips become more tender the sweetness of the coke and the spiciness of the barbecue sauce become deeper embedded in the flavor of the beef.
So our tips are all set let’s work on our sides. I usually serve my tips with a potato salad made with
5 large potatoes peeled, chopped (pieces the size of your thumb) and cooked
1 small onion
1 bell peeper
3 stalks of chopped celery
1 tbls of fresh dill
2 tbls of chopped garlic
1 tsp of mustard
1 chopped dill picked spear
¼ cup of chopped scallions
1/3 cup of mayonnaise
Boiled eggs and paprika for garnish.
Put all of the ingredients in a bowl sans the eggs and paprika and gently mix together add salt and pepper to taste. Once everything is mixed together garnish your salad with the sliced boiled eggs and sprinkle the paprika and some parsley over the salad. If it looks good it tastes good.
Chill the potato salad for at least a couple of hours and start grilling your tips. Your tips will cook fast so keep an eye on them, the sugars in the coke and barbecue sauce will caramelize quickly and seal in the juices. I tend to turn my tips on the grill continuously until I have them a little pink on the inside charred on the outside. Cut open a tip or two as they are cooking to see how they are doing.
At my house we serve the tips with the potato salad and some grilled vegetables. If you want to do this Beantown style garnish your dish with a hot cherry pepper and serve with a Sam Adams Boston Ale.
The caramel and toffee flavors in the Boston Ale will play off of the sweetness of the tips and the hoppiness balances the cherry peppers and plays off of the garlic in the potato salad. Boston Ale is full enough to compliment the beef but is not so heavy it will over power the grilled vegetables and potato salad.