Being very poor, I don't often get the opportunity to indulge in what ought to be a staple meal. I grew up in North Idaho and was raised on steak and potatoes. If you've heard of Idaho, it's probably because Idaho produces about 30% of potatoes grown in the United States. Our state nickname is "The Gem State" because of the variety and quality of gemstones found here, but you'll notice our license plates still boast of our famous potatoes. In Idaho, it is common knowledge that most of our potato crop is exported. It has become a statewide in-joke that the two easiest ways to get Idaho potatoes are a) go to McDonald's and order french fries and b) leave the state. But I digress. Occasionally, my cravings get the better of me, and I head off to the store in search of these important ingredients of a good Saturday dinner.

On the Saturday in question, some two weeks ago, I was broke as usual but powerfully craving a solid homecooked meal. I promised myself that if I couldn't find inexpensive meat and potatoes, I would sadly go without, and make myself a bowl of rice instead. So I set off to the grocery store. In the meats section, I found some very inexpensive cuts of meat, which I quickly determined were better than no meat at all. With my in-store discount card, the price was nearly halved. I walked away with a 13.5oz top round for a bargain $2. Next stop was the produce section, where I settled for three small red Washington potatoes, for a little less than a dollar. Adding in Idaho sales tax, I spent a grand total of exactly three dollars.

Now what to do with an inexpensive cut of meat? Ah, marinade, of course! I browsed the internet, picking and choosing parts of recipes, and asked my local resources. My two best friends are both the sorts of people who let their steak stare at the grill in abject horror for a few seconds before slapping it on a plate and digging in. Until recently, I was the sort of person who would order a steak well-done. I have since learned the error of my ways, but still prefer my meat to be good and dead before it reaches my plate. So with some trepidation, I asked them their opinions on the preparation of this two dollar steak, reminding them that I lack a grill. They both recommended broiling or pan-frying on medium heat. I chose pan-frying because it sounded much simpler. From their advice and my mad internet data collection skillz, here is the recipe I created:

Ingredients: (all measurements are approximate)
Rub (dry ingredients):

  • 1 teaspoon pepper (freshly ground is better, but the cheap pre-ground kind will do)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (table salt will work too... I had sea salt left over from the cleaning process I used after I got my tongue piercing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cloves finely minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Mop (wet ingredients):
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce (Lea & Perrins is worth paying a little extra for)
  • 1 tablespoon soya (cheap store brand works just fine)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin if you can swing it)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (one of those little plastic lemons full of lemon juice will last you forever)
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey (if you have it)
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish sauce (if you have it)
  • 2 tablespoons A1 (or storebrand steak sauce, as it was in my case)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (real butter is always better, but margarine will suffice)

Score meat and set on top of saran wrap on a plate. The saran wrap should be big enough to wrap the entire steak.
Mix dry ingredients.
Mix wet ingredients.
Rub dry ingredients into both sides of the meat.
Heat wet ingredients until the butter or margarine melts. (I did this in the microwave.)
Pour mop over steak, turning after half has been poured, to saturate both sides.
Wrap tightly and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Longer is better. A day or so is most preferable.
Unwrap, saving juices.
Cook on medium heat, adding more mop often, until the steak reaches the desired level of doneness.
Enjoy! You've just made a cheap cut of meat tender, juicy, and delicious!