Michael Symon's Favorite Way To Pair Steak And Whiskey - Exclusive

Nothing conjures up the image of an old-school power lunch like washing down a nice, juicy steak with a glass of whiskey. But the combo has more going for it than just its association with "Mad Men" era glamor. In an effort to learn more about how to pair them, Tasting Table caught up with chef and Food Network fixture Michael Symon for an exclusive interview ahead of his steak and whiskey dinner at this year's South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

Symon told us that this type of alcohol and meat are natural partners from a flavor perspective. "[It's a] match made in heaven with the rich, smokey caramel flavor of bourbon ... it pairs perfectly with a steak," he explained. The complex sweetness of this beverage helps set off the rich meaty flavors, enhancing the taste of the beef. 

The restaurateur said his favorite way to drink whiskey with his steak is "neat with a splash of water to really get the chance to experience the flavors." Adding a touch of water to your drink will help tame the alcohol burn, giving you a deeper appreciation of its flavor without covering up the natural taste of the whiskey.

His advice on preparing a steak to serve with whiskey

Michael Symon explained that the cut of steak doesn't have a big effect on how he pairs it with whiskey. Neither does the mode of preparation, whether that be seared, broiled, or grilled. However, the chef does have certain seasonings he likes to use on his steak to make it complement whiskey even better. One is urfa chile, also known as urfa biber, a dried Turkish pepper with smoky notes that would help reinforce the fiery flavor of bourbon. Another is porcini powder, an all-around umami booster that can make any cut of beef taste meatier.

Even vegetarians can get in on the fun of this type of dinner by grilling a portobello mushroom instead of a steak. "There is no substitute for the real deal, but I'll often sub in portobello for non-meat eaters," Symon said. "You can prepare it the same way as a steak and it has a great texture."

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is February 22-25, 2024. You can purchase tickets here.