The best way to cook flank steak
Flank steak is a cut of beef characterized by its unique flavor and texture, as long as it is prepared properly. What is the best way to cook a flank steak, and how can you obtain a dish that will delight your guests?
What is flank steak?
Flank steak is extracted from the lower part of the cow's breast. When this cut is obtained from the abdomen of the animal, the flavor is very intense, but the texture of the meat is tough. This is due to the fact that this area has a large number of muscle fibers, so the cut is also tough. The flank steak is characterized for being a very lean cut of meat, with a high protein content, but if it is not prepared correctly, the result will be meat without much flavor and tough to the palate.
Something that distinguishes flank steak and facilitates cooking and cutting it into smaller pieces, is that the muscle fibers or veins are easily visible to the eye. This muscle grain follows the same direction, so you only have to follow these fibers and cut in parallel, prior to cooking and once it is going to be consumed.
Tips for preparing flank steak
A type of marinade
When it comes to preparing flank steak, choose the best marinade for it. The marinade not only allows the meat to taste nice, but also serves to tenderize and break down the muscle fibers.
Since flank steak is a cut with a thickness of approximately two centimeters, it has a lot of connective tissue that must be tenderized in order to be able to consume the meat and enjoy it. The best ways to marinate the meat are:
- In salt. To marinate the meat in salt, you will need to coat it completely with coarse salt. Spread the salt along the 30 centimeter length of the cut and let it rest for at least one hour before taking it to the fire. Then rinse with plenty of cold water and dry with kitchen paper.
- With citrus fruits. Citrus fruits are another way to break down muscle fibers and tenderize the meat. Orange is the most commonly used citrus fruit in flank steak recipes. The meat should be left to soak at least overnight.
- With carbonated soft drinks. Using lager or cola is also a good way to break down the muscle and tenderize the meat. You can mix the beer or cola with orange to make the meat not only soft but also to obtain an irresistible flavor.
- With dairy. Milk and plain yogurt are also good ways to tenderize meat. Soaking the flank steak in milk will tenderize the cut considerably.
Other ways to tenderize meat
Other ways to tenderize the meat are to use a kitchen mallet to pound it before cooking and also to reduce the thickness of the meat a little. You can also use a special product to tenderize the cut.
A good marinade not only allows the meat to have flavor, but also a softer texture. But the time you leave the meat to marinate also plays a key role in cooking. If it is with salt, you will only need an hour, but if you decide to use citrus, then it is best to leave the meat in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for at least overnight.
Remove the meat at room temperature
All cuts, whether beef or pork, and even fish, should be taken out of the refrigerator two hours before cooking. This will allow the meat to be at the same temperature throughout the cut at the time of cooking. When meat is not taken out of the refrigerator ahead of time, it might be crisp and done on the outside, but cold and raw on the inside.
Flank steak is a cut that does not need too much time on the fire, as long as the marinade has been on for a sufficient amount of time . It only needs four or five minutes on each side to be ready. That is why it is so important that the meat is at room temperature.
High or low heat?
The cooking temperature for flank steak varies depending on how you want the meat. This is a very versatile cut that supports very fast, high-heat cooking, but can also be done for longer on low heat.
Before putting the meat on the grill, and once you have marinated it, you should make shallow cuts on the meat. The pattern is that of diagonal fours (forming intertwined X's). These cuts will break up the muscle fibers and tenderize the meat.
Grilling the meat
The flank steak tastes best when grilled, but you can also grill it in a frying pan. However, in this second case, the pan must be very hot and you should add a drizzle of olive oil beforehand.
When the steak is marinated and ready to cook, preheat the grill. Grease the grill with cooking spray or canola oil and place the grill at a distance of approximately 15 centimeters from the coals.
Place the meat on the grill and add some of the marinade juices, salt and freshly ground black pepper on top. You can sprinkle aromatic herbs of your preference. It is very important not to neglect the flank steak while it is on the fire; since if it has been tenderized with a mallet or the marinade, the cooking time may vary.