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Top sirloin steak is topped with Sicilian marinade. Meagan Deanne / The Forum

Lost Italian: Bring Italian flavors to the top with Sicilian steak marinade

FARGO — Top sirloin steaks are a summertime favorite in our house, and this week I’m sharing a new recipe for a fresh and simple Sicilian steak marinade to celebrate our upcoming family trip to Sicily, Italy.

We’ll be visiting Tony’s large extended family in the small southern town of Rosolini, and for Gio, our 14-year-old son, this will be his first time meeting his Sicilian relatives. We are beyond excited to watch him immerse himself in the culture and traditions of our Sicily, and we have been cooking up some of our favorite Italian specialties at home to build the excitement.

For this recipe, I’ve chosen top sirloin steak, an affordable yet flavorful cut that features no bones and very little fat, which makes it succulent enough that you could just sprinkle it with salt and pepper, throw it on the grill and call it a day. However, with very little extra effort, you can infuse the steaks with the flavor of this bright and savory Sicilian marinade.

This recipe features traditional Sicilian ingredients including fresh oregano, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, crushed red pepper and extra-virgin olive oil, with a nod to North Dakota through the inclusion of honey. I also added fresh parsley and thyme for an added boost of flavor as they are in abundance right now in our herb garden, but you can substitute whatever fresh herbs you have on hand.

When I was developing this recipe, I ran the ingredients list by Tony, my husband and resident Sicilian, to get his stamp of approval. He scanned the list, nodding approvingly, until he came upon the honey. “Honey?” he asked. “I don’t think honey will work with these ingredients. Everything else looks good but leave the honey out.”

I set about making my test marinade as per his advice, and upon tasting it I found it to be just an ordinary Italian marinade. So, I threw caution to the wind and added some honey (without telling Tony) and this simple, natural sweetener made all the flavors brighter and bolder. Honey was in, period.

To test the recipe, I purchased two large top sirloin steaks, about 2 pounds apiece, placed them each in a plastic resealable bag and covered them with the marinade, reserving some marinade to serve later with the grilled steaks. Marinating meat not only provides a big boost of flavor, but this process also helps to tenderize the meat, resulting in a steak that is easy to cut, tender and juicy. For the best flavor, the steaks should be marinated for at least four hours, and overnight is even better.

For this recipe, I grill the marinated steaks over high, direct heat, turning at least once halfway through, until they reach a perfect medium-rare temperature of 135 degrees. Once the steaks have finished cooking, it’s important to let them rest for at least five minutes before carving to prevent the juices from running out.

“Minchia!” Tony exclaimed when he tasted my Sicilian marinated steaks, which is a slang word in the Sicilian dialect meaning "fantastic’" or "great." I’ll settle for delicious, and I hope you will, too. Buon appetito!

Sarah’s Sicilian Marinated Top Sirloin Steak

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

Two 2-pound sirloin steaks

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped

2 teaspoons honey

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, herbs, honey, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper until combined. Taste and add more seasoning and flavors as desired; remember that the flavors will intensify as the marinade settles. Transfer half of the marinade to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Place the steaks in a large plastic zipper bag and pour the remaining marinade into the bag. Seal the bag and turn it several times until the steaks are fully coated. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat grill to high. Remove steaks from plastic bag and transfer to a baking sheet or dish. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grill the steaks over direct heat until grill marks are achieved on the bottom, about 6 to 8 minutes, then turn the steaks over and continue cooking until a thermometer inserted in the middle of each steak reaches your desired temperature.

Transfer the meat to a cutting board, cover lightly with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle. Carve the steaks into slices and immediately pour half of the reserved marinade over the carved meat, saving the rest to serve on the side.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.

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