Hey Laura, I want to impress my man with some meaty home cooking. Do you have a fantastic recipe that is relatively easy and inexpensive?
Oh, you are in luck, Anonymous! I just discovered the best recipe for making the most tender, flavorful flank steak strips you’ve ever feasted upon. I accidentally didn’t follow the recipe (what else is new?) and it turned out fine, so I’ll write down my adaptation here.
And, because I have a bad habit of not reading a recipe all the way through before I begin, only to find out there’s some crazy time constraint I didn’t know about that threatens to ruin my cooking plan…
First, note this! You need to start this at least 3-4 hours in advance. Preferably much longer. I left my last batch to marinate in the fridge for almost two days (that wasn’t planned; we had a bug in the house that made tummies too tender for meat) and it was the best batch yet.
Second: Have your butcher cut your flank steak into very, very thin slices. A quarter inch or so thick. It will marinate more thoroughly and cook much quicker. Plus, you won’t have to slice it yourself after it’s cooked!
Love-winning Marinated Flank Steak
Adapted from this New York Times recipe
Into a gallon sized zip-loc bag, add:
5 coarsely chopped green onions/scallions (neato trick: I just cut the whole bunch with my kitchen scissors)
1 thumb-sized peeled and finely chopped ginger (use your garlic press)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (again, the garlic press)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 organic lime’s worth of lime juice
1 organic lime’s worth of coarsely chopped rind (always use organic when you’re using the rind!)
1 teaspoon Sriracha (or to taste - don’t be afraid of it; I used this much and my heat-sensitive kids still loved it)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (I used pink Hawaiian sea salt)
1 1/2 pounds grass-finished flank steak, cut into 1/4 inch thick strips
Close the bag, making sure all the extra air is squeezed out. Massage the marinade thoroughly around the meat. If you are making it the night before, put it in the fridge (give it a massage every time you open the fridge from now until you get it out for supper). If you only have a couple hours before supper time, leave it on the counter to marinate. Room temperature meat absorbs marinade faster, and you always want to cook meat starting at room temperature.
If you’ve refrigerated the meat bag over night, get it out a couple hours before supper time so that it comes to room temperature before you put it in your pan. Otherwise, it will cool the pan and not brown nicely; the juices will escape from the meat and you will be left with tough, chewy leather.
When you’re ready to cook, heat up a cast iron pan to medium-high heat. You don’t want it smoking, but you also want the meat to really sizzle and sear when it hits the pan. Prepare yourself; cooking these steak strips will be quick work.
[Flank steak is only worth eating if it’s cooked medium-rare. Medium, if you absolutely must. Anything more, and it’ll get too tough. On my hot cast iron skillet, with meat starting at room temperature, that is no more than 2 minutes on the first side, one minute once it’s flipped. I like a nice layer of searing on each side, with a slightly pink middle. You may have to experiment a bit and taste as you go. Mmmmm…not hardship there!]
Using tongs, lay a few flank steak strips onto your hot pan, making sure they don’t touch. You’ll be doing these in a few batches. It helps to scrape the pan in between batches, so the marinade residue doesn’t build up and start smoking. I just use a flat-bottomed wooden spatula for this.
As the steak is done, pile it up on a plate so it can rest; letting the meat rest for a few minutes will bring out the juicy flavor even more.
I like to serve this marinated flank steak on a bowl of rice with garlicky pan-fried green beans. If you eliminated the ginger and added cilantro to your marinade, it would be beautiful in fajitas.
This recipe makes about 4 servings for hungry people who are emphasizing the meat on their plates. Double it if you want to insure leftovers (which are fantastic - marinated meat seems to be even better the next day).
Good luck wooing your man through his belly, Anonymous! :D