Boston is renowned for its diversity of culinary options, with food from every ethnicity you can name. Mike’s City Diner, run by Lebanese Jay Hajj, is a must-visit when you’re in town. His fusion of New England classics with elements from his native Beirut is a big crowd-pleaser, and his new cookbook is packed with phenomenal recipes like maple-whiskey steak tips. Never heard of steak tips? Head to Boston and prepare for beef heaven.
The first time I had steak tips, probably at about 11 or 12 years old, was something of a life-changing experience given the scarcity of meat of any kind, especially beef, back home in Beirut. Steak tips are a kind of Boston specialty you find at take-out joints and pubs all over the city.
Steak tips come from the thin but fatty-rich sirloin flap, typically a chewy, second-rate cut of meat. So the beef is cut into chunks, marinated to flavor and tenderize the beef, then grilled over a hot fire. Sometimes the tips are skewered, but more often than not they’re just piled onto a plate, maybe doused with barbecue sauce, and served with French fries. Meat was something you ate back in Lebanon only on special occasions. Here in America, you could walk into a little takeout joint like my buddy Billy’s family pizza shop and walk out with a pile of grilled marinated beef for just a few dollars. I was amazed by it all.
- 2 pounds sirloin flap or flatiron steak
- 1/2 cup South Boston Irish Whiskey (or favorite whiskey)
- 1/4 cup Grade B Massachusetts maple syrup (or favorite real maple syrup)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 medium onion, chopped into large pieces
For the steak tips
Cut the meat into 2-inch chunks. Whisk together all the remaining ingredients. Pour the liquid into a large resealable bag. Add the beef and marinate overnight.
Turn the grill to high or build a hot charcoal fire. Grill the tips about 3 minutes per side for medium-well. The best tips have charred edges. Steak tips are, by definition, not the highest quality cut of meat, so they taste better to me cooked a little beyond medium.
Pour your favorite supermarket barbecue sauce over the tips if desired and serve with rice, French fries or salad. I also like to serve my steak tips with an onion that's been quartered, dabbed with a little olive oil and grilled beside the steak tips until lightly charred.