Now that the equinox has passed, fall is officially in full swing. And with that, so is football season. I’ve never been much of a sport spectator, and I don’t really understood the intense passion that people have for football. There, I said it. Sorry, guys.
But! I do get the camaraderie of sitting around the TV with your friends and family, rooting for your favorite team. Something about the combination of competition, company, and cheers feels like a distinct kind of social bonding.
Also, I totally understand the snacks.
However, at gatherings like this the food is too often just bowls of empty calories—chips and Cheetos and the like. Even if there are more substantial choices, they’re usually foods that don’t make me feel all that great. Funny thing is, many people think that healthier options are not only too time-consuming but also unwelcome at a party of boisterous beer-drinking fans.
The key to appeasing both diehard pub-food lovers and health-minded folks is to rethink our idea of what a snack can be. When it comes to feeding a large group of people over a period of several hours, serving small bites of food is a resourceful to go. But that doesn’t mean those small bites have to deep-fried and breaded.
Steak bites are a great alternative to such fare. One of my favorite snacking foods, these super simple, quick to prepare, protein-packed nuggets always get gobbled up at gatherings. These are fancier than your average chicken wing or mozzarella stick, yet because you don’t need to go for a super-marbled, extravagant cut of meat, they offer the illusion of decadence without the hefty price tag. Serving these will make you the envy of hosts at your next football party—or any other party, for that matter.
Though these steak bites are delicious on their own, you can elevate them even more by making a dip for serving. I’ve tried them with store-bought steak sauce, barbeque sauce, creamy ranch dressing, and more exotic dips like chimichurri and homemade sweet curry mayo. But my favorite is this flavorful blue cheese dip, studded with loads of cracked pepper and chives. You even get the added bonus of gut-friendly bacteria with the buttermilk and kefir or yogurt.
Different blues range in pungency, so use one that suits your taste buds and budget (though I recommend a good raw cheese over pasteurized whenever possible). The dusting of blackened seasoning, though not mandatory, give the bites a little kick, which is soothed by the cool dressing. Serve these as is or with an assortment of dipping sauces in addition to the blue cheese. And, if you like, add a scattering of raw veggies to the appetizer plate to round it out.
Blackened Steak Bites with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dip
Serves 4, with about 1 cup of dip
Prep time: 20 minutes (plus 20–30 minutes to let dip sit)
Cook time: 10 minutes
For blue cheese dip:
⅓ cup crumbled blue cheese
½ cup full-fat yogurt or sour cream
2–4 tablespoons cultured buttermilk or kefir
½ lemon, juiced
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Sea salt, to taste
For steak bites:
16–24 oz. steak of your choice, trimmed of sinew and excess fat, cut into large bite-sized pieces
Homemade or store-bought blackened or Cajun seasoning
Tallow or other fat of choice (for searing)
- Prepare blue cheese dip: Combine all ingredients (starting with the smaller amount of buttermilk) in a blender or food processor. Pulse until combined but still a bit chunky. Add additional buttermilk to thin sauce to your liking. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and set aside in the fridge for at least 20 minutes for the flavors to meld. (Keeps well for about 10–14 days.)
- Prepare steak bites: Trim steak and cut into large, bite-sized pieces. Season liberally with blackened or Cajun seasoning (or other seasoning of your choice). Heat a small amount of fat in a heavy pan. Sear steak pieces until deeply browned on the outside, but still quite pink inside. (For maximum tenderness, the leaner the cut, the less cook time you’ll need.) Transfer steak bites to a plate or bowl. Serve with dip.
Image from Briana Goodall.