With the close of May, grilling season officially begins, although those of us who are hardcore grill all year long. The weather is usually cooperating by Memorial Day, and the long weekend is the perfect time to uncover, dust off, clean up and confirm the grilling integrity of your outdoor barbequing machine. Charcoal and gas, by the droves these icons of male cookery are awakened from their long winter’s hibernation in a literal blaze of glory.
Hamburgers and hotdogs, the grill’s heavy hitters, can be heard sizzling from many a backyard patio, their heavenly scent wafting into the ether eliciting memories of barbeques past into the minds of those with working olfactory organs. Gone are the restrictions of polite society with regards to food consumption. We can eat standing up, talk with our mouths full and drip mustard on our shirts with reckless abandon; such is the freedom of outdoor cooking.
But what if we’ve got more than 10 minutes of advanced warning for outdoor easting festivities? What might we achieve in flame broiled perfection if we put our minds to it? Certainly barbeque chicken springs to mind. But anyone with even the most rudimentary experience with barbeque sauce or high school chemistry class knowledge knows that sugar + flames = carbon. Yuck.
Beef, the non ground up version, can take the heat. And the sheer quantity of various cuts with their unique flavor profiles, tenderness differences and size of the cut gives us quite a bit of variety when it comes to grilling options. Long gone are the days of throwing a sirloin on the heat and cooking it death. Backyard enthusiasts have realized that the flavor can come from more than just the smoke, and the meat from cuts other than the loin.
Marinades are the perfect way to enhance beef’s flavor, and begin the denaturing process of the proteins in tougher, but usually tastier, cuts of beef. Flank steak is the perfect example. This long flat muscle, with its muscle fibers running parallel with the surface of the meat can be extremely tough if cooked too long—medium rare is best. Slashing the surface of the steaks prior to marinating, top and bottom, with 4 or 5 cross hatch cuts helps the marinade flavor penetrate deeper and keeps the steak from shrinking as much once it’s on the heat. Once grilled, it also needs to be cut on the bias for both serving and easier eating. Cutting thin slices across the grain and at a 45° angle to the surface provide you with the best slices of this delicious steak.
If the grilling bug has bitten, and with this warmer weather swarms of the things are loose, why not give this marinated flank steak a try the next time you fire up ‘Ole Smoky.
Marinated Flank Steak
- 2 whole flank steaks, tops and bottoms slashed
For the marinade
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 4-5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground mustard
- 2 tablespoons ground ginger,
- 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 2 tablespoons Accent
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a large container, big enough for the steaks to lay flat in. Slash the steaks, top and bottom an ⅛ of an inch deep in a cross hatch pattern. Submerge the steaks in the marinade and cover. Refrigerate overnight. In the morning, turn the steaks over in the marinade and redistribute the onions and garlic. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to grill.
Remove the steaks from the marinade, being sure to remove the garlic, onions and peppercorns from the steaks. Heat your grill to very hot allowing time for the grates to completely heat through, at least 15 minutes. Turn the grill to medium and grill steaks, turning once for 3 minutes a side for rare and 4 minutes for medium rare. Rotate the steaks once halfway through cooking each side for those perfect grill marks. Cooking flank steaks past medium rare is not recommended.
Enjoy these steaks over a bed of greens with the Dijon vinaigrette from last week.