Flank steak is a great choice for people who are watching what they eat and are on a budget. Of all the cuts of beef, flank steak is one of the more economical choices, and there are fabulous and varied ways to prepare it. The most popular method of preparation for this cut is the grill, but if you don’t have one or it’s rainy outside, you can also cook one perfectly in the oven or on the stovetop.
MARINATING YOUR MEAT
Before cooking your flank steak, it is important to marinate it. A marinade is important to the flavor and texture of your meat. Generally, a marinade is made up of an oil base, and acid, and flavorings. You can use any combination of these to create many flavors. The sky’s the limit! Following are lists of common marinade ingredients. Be creative when combining them!
OIL BASE-adds moisture to the meat
-for a lower fat option, low fat dairy can be substituted. try low fat milk, buttermilk, or yogurt.
ACID INGREDIENT-tenderizes the meat. This component can also add a lot of flavor!
-citrus juice (lemon, lime, orange, pineapple)
-vinegars (balsamic, red wine, rice wine, raspberry, white wine)
-wines (red, white, port)
-other fruit juices
FLAVORINGS-much of these will be dry solids and will coat the meat with a layer of flavor before cooking.
-dried or fresh herbs
-spices (be creative!)
-prepared condiments (dijon mustard is good on almost anything, ketchup, salad dressing)
Most beef can handle a marinade for up t o 24 hours, so if you cooking a flank steak for dinner, be sure to get it in the marinade the morning of in order to ensure the best results. It is important that you don’t add salt to a marinade. Salt will draw moisture OUT of the meat instead of infusing it with moisture. Wait until right before you cook it to add the salt. Make sure you always marinate in the refrigerator in some sort of plastic bag or glass container. Meat will soak up the metallic taste if it is marinated in a dark metal container.
HOW TO COOK THE MEAT
The most popular way to prepare the meat is on the grill. Whether you have a gas grill or a charcoal grill, this method will work well. For best results, heat your grill to medium to medium high heat, and sear the beef over a direct flame. After the meat has been seared, move it to another area of the grill to finish cooking over an indirect flame. This will ensure a crisp outside and a juicy inside. Most cuts of flank steak will need to be on the grill for 5-7 minutes per side, depending on the desired doneness.
You can also cook the meat in the oven under the broiler (just be sure to watch it carefully and flip it often!) or on the stovetop in a greased skillet! These are a bit more challenging, but can be done with a bit of practice.
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN IT’S DONE?
Using a meat thermometer is the best method of checking for doneness. Cutting into the meat to look at the center allows precious juices and flavors to escape. Place the end of the meat thermometer as close to the center of the cut as possible, being sure not to push it all the way through so that it comes in contact with the hot grill. A rare steak will register at around 125˚F, a medium steak will register at 145˚F, and a well-done steak will register at 160˚F.
Good sources of educational articles and interesting recipes would be: