If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a chef is what can and what can’t be prepped or cooked ahead of time. If you don’t figure this out pretty early in the game, you’ll slowly but surely lose your mind from dealing with one meal to the next! One thing I know is that planning and cooking dinner should hopefully be something you enjoy doing -not dread!
Home cooks may not have to worry about their reputations, but to successfully get dinner on the table night after night requires planning and forethought. I hope, with this and subsequent blog posts, to reveal some tricks of the trade as well as good old common sense practices about planning ahead.
Let’s face it, the easier your kitchen life is, the happier everyone will be — most of all you! These tips for the perfect flank steak will make your dinnertime and kitchen life that much more enjoyable.
- Flank steak is one of my very favorite cuts of beef. Soak it up in a tasty marinade in the morning so it is ready for you when you get home. Try to get the steak soaking in the marinade at least six hours ahead of time, and up to 24 hours. This means you can plan ahead for a “to-die for” grilled flank steak dinner the night before or the morning of. When you get home, simply toss it on the grill!
- An amazing flank steak is the centerpiece of a magnificent meal! Make side dishes simple and serve a green salad or sliced tomatoes and perhaps good store bought potato salad to round it out.
- Flank steak is leaner than some others but has incredible flavor and a pleasingly coarse texture that is hard to replicate. Sometimes called London broil, it’s a flat-ish piece of meat that can be grilled flat out or stuffed and rolled. I prefer the former but experiment based on what you enjoy most.
- The spices blend perfectly with the smooth tartness of the sour cream and yogurt and the rich meatiness of the steak in my popular flank steak recipe. Once you have the ingredients on hand, this is a super-easy marinade to mix up; you need a knife only for the garlic and the jalapeño. And let’s face it, if you don’t like the heat of the jalapeño, forget about it. The garlic will take care of pulling the other flavors together.
- Whenever you grill steak, it’s important to watch it carefully so that it does not overcook. You can always put it back on the grill if it’s too rare but you can’t retrieve its juiciness if it’s overdone. I’ve faced that reality!
- All recipes for flank steak instruct you to “slice the meat across the grain.” If that directive baffles you, consider that the meat is made up of long, relatively tough fibers (think of a stalk of celery) that must be intersected with a knife to shorten them and make the meat tender enough to chew. You can see these fibers in the meat. To cut a flank steak correctly all you must to do is slice it on the bias, the diagonal, across those long fibers.
- If you’re in the mood for something a little different, try skirt or hanger steak. These are close to flank in terms of flavor and texture and will benefit from the same creamy, spicy marinade. Both cuts have more flavor than tenderness. Skirt is a long, flat cut; ungainly hanger steak is composed of two lobes connected by a particularly tough sinew and so, the story goes, the steak was a tough sell and written off as a “butcher’s cut.” Of course, the butchers were in on the secret and were pretty pleased these homely steaks did not fly out of the store. Today, they are trendy and oh-so-popular. While hangers are delicious when cooked right, I confess to preferring skirt steak as a stand-in for flank steak. It’s a little easier on the grill.