Flank Steak Marinade Recipe Ideas
Today’s supermarket meat department offers many previously underappreciated cuts of beef. One of these is a cut from the lower abdominal muscle of the steer called the flank steak. This cut is also sometimes called a London broil. Flank steak is long and flat and has very little fat. Let’s explore how to get the most flavor out of this meat.
What Is The Best Way To Flavor A Flank Steak?
Dry rubs, injections, marinades and even saucing and spicing after cooking are all ways to add flavor to meat. A dry rub can include any number of spices and almost always salt and pepper, which is rubbed into the meat before cooking.
A marinade is a flavorful liquid that can be injected into the meat, or the meat can be submerged in the liquid for hours or even days before cooking.
A marinade is the best way to add flavor to a flank steak because a marinade tenderizes as well as adding great taste. Because the flank steak has little fat and is from a well-exercised part of the steer, it can be tough if not prepared correctly. The steak is thin enough that injection is not necessary. Submerging in the right marinade is the way to go.
How To Marinate
To marinate flank steak, you will need the following: a flank steak, a container, the marinade, and refrigeration. Purchase a flank steak with a deep red color and all fat and silver skin trimmed away. Your marinating container can be any dish large enough to allow the liquid to surround and cover the meat.
Use a plastic, glass, or ceramic non-reactive dish. Aluminum or copper will react to the acid in the marinade and leave a metallic taste in the meat.
Pro Tip: Consider using a large resealable plastic bag as your container. Put the steak and the marinade in the bag and squeeze out all of the air before sealing.
Making Your Flank Steak Marinade
A basic marinade includes fat, acid, and flavor. The fats moisturize the meat, and the acids penetrate and tenderize. Some cooks like marinades that include yogurt or buttermilk as these combine the fat and acid, and dairy products aid in tenderizing the meat.
Many marinades also call for a little sugar or honey, which helps the other ingredients adhere to the meat. Be sure to wipe off any excess sugar before cooking as it can burn. A little sugar will aid in browning.
Here is a delicious Mexican flank steak marinade. For a two-pound flank steak combine 1/3 cup olive oil, the juice of two limes, two tablespoons cider vinegar and two tablespoons sugar. For flavorings add four minced garlic cloves, ¼ cup of soy sauce, one seeded and minced jalapeno, and ½ cup chopped cilantro.
Any flank steak marinade that includes lime juice, some heat and cilantro will have a Mexican flavor. This combination also makes a great skirt steak marinade.
Combine all of the ingredients and pour over the steak in your marinating container. If you are not using a plastic bag, cover the container with plastic wrap. Press the plastic wrap down against the meat to seal the meat to the marinade.
Pro Tip: Before combining the meat and the marinade, reserve a quarter cup of the liquid to pour over the steak after cooking.
Marinating The Flank Steak
Marinate the flank steak in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight. The more acid in your marinade, the less time you need for the flavors to permeate the meat. Be sure to turn the meat over a few times while marinating to ensure that the flavors penetrate both sides.
Cooking The Flank Steak
When you are ready to cook the meat, remove it from the marinade and brush off all bits of garlic and any excess sugar. Garlic will burn during cooking and become bitter. Pat the steak dry, and let it come to room temperature before cooking.
Flank steak should be cooked quickly over high heat, and outdoor grilling is a common approach. The best way to cook flank steak indoors is on the stove in a grill pan or cast-iron frying pan. Make sure that the pan is heated until just before smoking so that the meat sizzles when it hits the surface.
If you are grilling your flank steak, preheat the grill to 450 degrees. High heat will sear the beef and seal in the flavors.
Grilling or pan searing for 4-5 minutes per side should produce an internal temperature of around 135 degrees or medium-rare. Flank steak tastes best rare to medium-rare. Remove the steak from the heat, tent with foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes. The marinade preserved from before combing with the meat can be drizzled over the steak while it rests.
Slicing And Serving
The long muscle fibers in flank steak make the grain easily visible. Slice the steak very thinly, at an angle and against the grain. Pour any juices that run out during cutting over the slices.
This Mexican marinated flank steak is delicious in tacos or fajitas. Serve with sautéed peppers and onions, or corn tortillas, chopped onion and cilantro. Don’t forget the sour cream and pico de gallo.
By varying the marinade a little, grilled flank steak also makes a great Philly cheesesteak. Use a marinade of mustard, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Serve the sliced steak piled high on hoagie rolls with sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Cover with provolone and slide under the broiler for a minute to melt the cheese.
Now you know how to build any marinade with fats, acid, and flavor. Remember to seal the marinade close to the meat during the soaking period and cook the marinated meat quickly over high heat. We hope you will take this new knowledge and experiment.
Try balsamic vinegar or orange juice as the acid in your marinade. And marinate other meats like chicken or fish. Please share your new recipes and tips in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need to marinate flank steak?
Some people insist that a marinade is necessary for flank steak to break it down and make it tender. Others say that flash searing it on a hot grill is enough. We like to err on the side of caution, so we usually marinate flank steak before cooking it. It ensures it will turn out juicy and tender, every time.
How long can you marinate flank steak?
You can marinate your steak for as little as an hour, or as long as 24 hours. We recommend an overnight marinade of 12 to 18 hours for best results. This gives the flavors of the marinade enough time to infuse, and it also lets the acidic ingredients tenderize the meat. Any longer than 24 hours, and your steak can become mushy.
Is flank steak tough or tender?
Flank steak is cut from an area of the cow that gets a lot of work, so it has a lot of muscle fibers. It does not have a lot of connective tissue, though, so it doesn’t require a low-and-slow cook time to make it tender. The most common cause of tough flank steak is overcooking the meat, which can make it chewy. We recommend a medium-rare temperature for best results.
How long can marinated flank steak stay in the refrigerator?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), marinated meats are safe in the refrigerator for up to five days. That said, you wouldn’t want to keep a flank steak on the marinade for that long. The acidic ingredients that break down the tough muscle fibers would work overtime, turning the meat mushy. If you can’t eat your marinated steak within 24 hours, remove it from the marinade, rinse it off, and pat it dry. Store it wrapped tightly in plastic wrap
Should flank steak be cut against the grain?
Yes, definitely! We mentioned earlier that flank steak has a lot of tough muscle fibers. If the steak is cooked correctly, it won’t be chewy, but it’s equally important to slice it right. When you slice against the grain, you cut those muscle fibers so you only have to chew short strands instead of long ones.