Give Your Steak A Fruity Boost With Apples

Pork chops and apples are an established pairing, but what about adding the same fruity twist to red meat? Adding apples to steak may sound like a no-go, but it could help brighten the savory flavors of the meat with natural sweetness and tang. Whether you're adding apple juice to brine or marinade, using it to baste while cooking, or cutting up fresh apples to make a rich compote to serve as a side, there are countless ways to incorporate the fruit into your steak dinner. 

If you want to experience the unique flavor combo without much extra cooking, you can even try dipping steak in applesauce. Okay, that one may only appeal to a select few. One TikTok video recommends spritzing steaks with apple juice from a spray bottle as you grill, which gives the meat a nice crust and a hint of sweetness. The steaks in the video appear to have developed an extra crispy layer of brown sear from the caramelization of the apple juice. Another TikTok cooks the apples in a sage butter sauce to heap on top of the steak to complement it with a sweet, autumnal flair. 

This unlikely pairing actually has potential

Apples aren't exactly a common fruit side to pair with steak, but that doesn't mean they should be written off altogether. Common steak dinner side dishes lean heavily on veggies and starches, especially potatoes. While these are wonderful pairings, apples can also boost the flavor, acting equal parts side and condiment.

A dish from Portugal bakes beef steak and apples together with spices to create a rich, spice-laden confluence of the two ingredients. Other recipes, call for a sauce of simmering applesauce, beef stock, and nutmeg to accompany seared steak. Meanwhile, boozier versions of the combination can be made by adding bourbon or cognac.

At the end of the day, the unlikely duo of ingredients is a contrast of flavors and textures, a crucial secret to creative, mouth-watering food. Steak and apples can be a clash (or harmony) of sweet and salty, two flavors known to go together. After all, science says so. According to research in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, our tongues actually have receptors on the taste buds that are uniquely stimulated by the pairing of saltiness and sweetness. Plus, apples aren't just providing the one-note sweetness of sugar, but a complex acidic tartness, too.