Let’s talk Flank Steak. This is a great way to fulfill a steak craving if you are working within a budget. Where I live it tends to run about $14/lb and one 2 lb steak is capable of feeding my family( of four) two meals, provided there are appropriate sides.
A typical combination for me is to do the first night with baked potatoes and a side salad or steamed vegetable, then use the slices to top a salad the next night. This is made especially good on a bed of mixed greens with grapes, blue cheese, and caramelized pecans, served with garlic bread or potato skins for extra fillers. I don’t have any pictures of that dish but I may have some soon, because this talk is making me hungry.
Here is the deal with Flank Steak, it is a lean cut of meat and has the potential to be tough. The remedy for this is a good marinade, proper cook time, and thin slices. I don’t usually push marinades for steak. When you have a rich, fatty cut of meat then a dry rub is the way to go. You want to enhance the natural flavor of the meat without making any changes to the texture. When you have a lean piece of meat, however, you do want to break it down a little and allow the flavor to be carried into the meat well.
The key components of a marinade are Acid, Fat, Emulsifier, and Flavorings.
Typical Acids include; wine, vinegar, and citrus juices (including tomato). These can break down the protein structures on the outside of the meat, allowing the flavor to absorb all the way through. It adds some tenderizing benefits, but most of that will be done through cooking method. This means letting it marinade for a couple hours and letting it warm a little before cooking, about half an hour, then only cooking to medium at most.
Your fat is usually an oil or animal fat. I usually stick to olive oil, avocado oil works great as well. When I was a fancy culinary student, we used duck fat for everything. It is a great, flavorful medium but I don’t tend to have it on hand at home. The fat helps with grilling or broiling the meat, creating a protective surface so you can get a crisp sear on the outside and simultaneously coat with the herbs and seasonings.
An Emulsifier is a product that holds two unlike objects together. So in this marinade, vinegar and oil will not combine and great a cohesive mixture until I add mustard. Eggs are another great emulsifier in items such as mayonnaise or Hollandaise, but I wouldn’t use them in a marinade.
Flavorings are really dependent on your personal taste. I tend to use my basic Italian herbs; basil, thyme, oregano. Garlic, salt, and pepper, of course. Onion Powder adds a nice savory agent and, in this recipe, I added some turmeric and red pepper flakes because I had to make do with regular yellow mustard in place of Dijon. I like the slight kick from Dijon Mustard and wanted to replicate it in some manner.
2 lb flank steak
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Honey
2 Tablespoon Prepared Mustard
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons Oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons Basil
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Step 1- Gather all your ingredients.
Step 2- Combine all ingredients. Nothing too fancy here. Pour all items in whatever container you will be using (I love my Pyrex), place the meat inside and make sure it is covered on both sides, refrigerate for an hour or two.
Step 3- pull out half an hour before cooking. This allows the meat to warm up, getting it closer to final temperature and allowing it to cook evenly.
Step 4- Preheat your oven to 375*
Step 5- Heat a Cast Iron Skillet on high heat for about 3 minutes. It should be hot enough that the steak sizzles as soon as it touches the surface. Sear for 5 minutes on each side, place in oven for another 10 minutes.
Step 6- Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes, covered in foil.
An added step that you could do, if you find there is too much gunk on your pan is to deglaze the pan and make an integral sauce.
This is one of my favorite culinary principles and here is what it means. Meat can leave behind a crust on the pan which becomes hard to clean and leaves behind a lot of flavor, actually. These brown bits that are left behind are called “the Fond” and you can remove them from the pan by pouring in an acid. So throw in a couple tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar on medium heat and allow that to pull all the flavor off the pan. Add a base for your sauce; in this recipe I would use some beef broth, add some of the same herbs as in the marinade, and thicken with flour. I would put about 1 cup of beef broth in a mason jar with 1 Tablespoon of flour ans shake that well before adding to the vinegar and fond in the pan.
This can be poured over top and is considered an integral sauce because it is made with the juices released in the cooking process. SO it cleans your pans, produces more flavor,and creates less waste. Like I said, it is one of my favorite culinary principles. You might say I am quite fond of it. Alright, I’m done.
Happy Cooking this weekend!