Last Updated on April 1, 2022
Humans have been experimenting with different ways to combine complementary foods for as long as humans have needed to eat.
Even after millennia of taste tasting, we are still capable of coming up with new, exciting, and unusual pairings.
Some strange food combinations have become common-place these days, like topping a sizzling egg over a steak or using ground coffee as a dry rub. Others feel curious, and a bit too trendy—like adding peanut butter to your burgers. And a few mashups come across as just trying too hard to be unique. We’re looking at you “guy who puts pickles on his ice cream.”
But no matter how you may feel about certain pairings and trends, we all need to spice up our kitchen routines from time to time. This list pairs unique ingredients with different cuts of our meat, in creative, delicious, and easy-to-prepare-at-home recipes.
Blueberries and Steak
When it comes to steak sauce, we know the old standbys–au poivre, blue cheese sauce, chimichurri, béarnaise, mushroom sauce—the list goes on.
What you don’t often see, however, is a fruit-centered sauce. This blueberry sauce incorporates elements of a standard red-wine sauce but is complemented by the natural sweetness of the berries. Sweet and salty are well-known companions, and this is no exception. We recommend putting this sauce on the flank steak, New York strip, or tri-tip.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to use the same blueberry sauce on pork as well. Sweet marinades and sauces are perfect for pork chops or other cuts.
Roast Chicken and Dates and Pistachios
People have been dressing up chicken for centuries—to varying degrees of success. This pairing of dates and pistachios is less commonly seen in American cuisine, but is a staple in places like Morroco.
The salty and crunchy texture of the pistachios, married with the sweetness of the dates, give the chicken a flavor you’ve likely never experienced before. And if you’re feeling bold, kick it up and make it spicy. We recommend using a whole roast chicken with this recipe.
Pork and Coffee
While you could serve up some pork chops in the morning with your coffee (we don’t judge), we recommend adding the ground coffee to your dry rub.
You may be familiar with coffee rubs on meats (if not, you can check out our guide here), and while coffee is often rubbed on beef, it offers a very pleasing flavor complement to pork. Try one of these rubs on your next round of pork chops, pork tenderloin, or ribs!
Bacon and Banana
If you are going to cover any food with meat, you have to blanket it in bacon.
We’ve been wrapping things in bacon ever since…well, ever since we’ve known about bacon. But a newcomer on the scene is bacon-wrapped bananas. Once again, that combination of salty and sweet makes these perfect as an appetizer or as a dessert. Just wrap the bananas with bacon (use toothpicks to keep them from unraveling), and broil for 8-10 minutes until it’s nice and crispy. You can thank Hawaiian cuisine for this delightful pairing.
Salmon and Beets
No, that isn’t a typo.
Salmon and beets really do go well together, and it’s not just because they’re both pretty colors (though that doesn’t hurt for the presentation).
This recipe uses the beets to cure the salmon—making it a perfect appetizer the following day. But if you don’t have the time to cure the salmon, you can roast the beets with another root vegetable of your choosing, and serve them along with grilled salmon.
Tip: Adding a little bit of horseradish really brings these two flavors together.