I may not have decorated for the holidays yet or know what cocktails I’ll be serving, but my appetizer game is on point. These juicy steak bites with creamy bleu cheese and caramelized onions are so delicious. Yes, please! Your holiday guests will not want to leave.
During the months of November and December, we usually make at least one beef tenderloin. My kids will be home on Wednesday and I will have one on the grill. When we buy a full tenderloin and trim it ourselves, we usually have plenty of good meat leftover that is not part of the roast. I sometimes cut that into fillets, but this time I used it for an appetizer by cutting it into bite-sized chunks and adding onions and cheese.
Truth… the recipe calls for a marinade, but you can skip it if you want. If you start with a cut of meat as quality as beef tenderloin, you can add the pieces directly to a smoking hot cast iron pan and get that sear and juicy interior without marinating. Quality steak has its own delicious flavor; however, if you love a good marinade and you have the time, I’ve included it in this recipe. Check out my notes at the bottom where I share tips for timing your marinade.
Just a note about caramelized onions, I LOVE THEM! Even if you don’t like onions, please try them. They are sweet and add amazing flavor to everything. We even add them to our grilled cheese sandwiches. Simply start with a hot pan with 50/50 butter and olive oil. Just a bit. Add your 1/4 inch sliced onions and stir every 4-5 minutes until they are beautifully browned. I say the darker the better.
Bleu Cheese Crusted Steak Bites with Caramelized Onions
For the Marinade:
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt (course)
- 1 tsp. Parsley
- 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
- 1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
- 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
- 2 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
For the Steak Bites:
- 1-1.5 lb. Tenderloin, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Kosher salt for cooking
- 8 oz. Bleu cheese
For the Caramelized Onions:
- 4 large Sweet Onions, sliced
- 2 tbsp. Butter
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
- In a bowl, add cubed steak bites, salt, parsley, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce and olive oil. Mix to cover steak and cover with plastic wrap.
- Marinate for up to one hour. See note below.
- Slice 4 sweet onions and set aside.
- Add butter and olive oil to a heavy bottom skillet and add sliced onions.
- Allow the onions to cook on high for about 3-4 minutes before reducing the heat to medium.
- Stir the onions about every 5 minutes until completely caramelized. This can take a while (30-40 minutes), but it’s so very worth the wait.
- Into a very hot cast iron pan, add a teaspoon of kosher salt. No oil or liquid.
- Add marinated steak bites to pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until crust forms. Do not move them around the pan. Simply let them sear. Once both sides have been seared, toss them around the pan for a minute to cook all sides. (The time depends on the size of your bites.)
- Once done, remove from heat and add the next batch. Do not crowd your pan or the meat will steam, not brown. You want that nice sear on both sides. We like our steak rare, so adjust your time for desired doneness. It will go under the broiler for just a minute once you have added the toppings.
Optional Alternate Cooking Method
- Add bite-sized pieces of steak to a baking sheet.
- Place broiler on high and cook bites 1-2 minutes on each side, depending on your desired temperature. Turn and continue cooking. This method cooks them pretty quickly, so make sure you stay with them.
- Once cooked to your preferred temperature, remove from oven.
- Place all steak bites on a cooking sheet.
- Add a tablespoon of the caramelized onions on to the top of the steak bites.
- Add about a teaspoon or so of the bleu cheese.
- Place under broiler just long enough to slightly melt the cheese.
- Remove from the cooking sheet onto a serving platter. Add a cocktail pick to each bite.
- Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Note: I learned some time ago from an Alton Brown Good Eats episode that the marination process breaks down the fibers of meat causing tenderization. (He used pool noodles to show a large scale sample of the fibers and show you why you cut flank steak across the grain, not with the grain. YES! I’m a food science geek!) Anyway, in the first hour, this tenderization happens then beyond an hour, the fibers begin to tighten. At this point, beyond an hour, the meat needs to marinate a full 24 hours for the break down to occur again. The takeaway is: that you should marinate for less than an hour (20 minutes actually works great) or more than 24 hours. I have no idea if this is true scientifically, but I have always followed it and have never ever had tough meat.