Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Grilling Flank Steak III

Well, here are the pictures of the marinated flank steak I grilled. It's super easy, but takes a little a little time to let the marinade do its work...about 12-24 hours. Oftentimes I find a great sounding recipe and will try it out the way it's written and then work from there in tweaking it to customize my own and families taste. For this particular recipe, I used one from the latest issues of Saveur (my number 2 cooking magazine...Cook's Illustrated is number 1). The July issue of Saveur is The Steak Issue...gotta love it for the summertime!

This first picture is the flank steak in the marinade, which is combination of several ingredients. The steak is about 2 pounds, which could serve 4-6 people.

Start by toasting the following spices...1 tablespoon of coriander seeks, 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, 2 broken dried chiles, and 2 fresh bay leaves (I used dried). Toast them slightly in a saute pan to release some of thier aroma. Let cool and crush them up a bit to release their inner flavor. In a larger enough dish, put the crushed spices and add 1/2 cup of red wine (any kind will due...a merlot, cab or whatever you have open), 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of worcestershire, 4 crushed cloves of garlic and 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (use fresh...dried just doesn't add the right amout of flavor), and 1/2 cup of olive oil. Mix it all up. Before adding the flank steak, cut off any excess fat and the skin that look silver (that's why it's called "silver skin...if you don't trim the silver skin off the meat will toughen up), and take a fork and poke the steak on both sides a lot (this allows for the marinade to really get into the meat and help tenderize it). Cover and put in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Every once and awhile, spoon the marinade over the steak, and in fact, I found it OK to turn the meat over so both sides get a good soaking.

When you're ready to grill, take the meat out of the fridge about an hour before so it can come to room temperature (don't worry, it won't go bad). Allowing the meat to come to room temperature lets the meat's muscle and fibers loosen and will help in the cooking process. Cooking a cold piece of meat will not give you full flavor.

The grill should be a medium heat. You could use a gas grill, but I found use a charcoal grill added a different taste.

Since flank steak doesn't have a ton of fat, it'll cook pretty fast...about 7-8 minutes per side (don't forget, once you take the meat off the grill, it'll continue to cook for about 10 minutes, so let the meat rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it.) Serving flank steak at medium-rare to medium is ideal...the end pieces will be more medium, while the center cuts will be medium-rarer. Plus, letting the meat sit for 10 minutes will help the meat retain its juices...cutting into a steak that comes right off the grill will allow the juices to flow right out of it, which will leave with a dry piece of meat. Yuck!

When you do cut the meat, cut it on the bias (an angle) following the grains of the meat. If you cut across the grain, you'll tear the meat and it'll end up on your guests' plate looking like you already chewed on it. Double yuck! I'm sorry to report that my digital camera ran out of battery power during the slicing time, so I'll have to post pictures next time I make this dish.

The outcome is great! With combination of spices (the fennel gives an anise taste...hint of licorice, the coriander has mild flavors of lemon, sage and caraway, and the combination of rosemary and garlic gives a robust sense). The vinegar is one ingredient you really taste and gives a pleasantly pungent taste. The combination of everything is wonderful.

Next time, I'm going to add a bit more red wine vinegar (just one more tablespoon), increase the amount of spices by 1/2 tablespoon, and add three more cloves of garlic. I'll have see if these additions will be too potent, but that's what's cooking is all about...experimentation.

In fact, I'm experimenting by freezing one flank steak in the marinade, which I will make in two weeks. I'll take pictures of that meal, too, (including the slicing technique).

Oh, an easy side dish is boiled red potatoes with salt and butter! Asparagus is a great veggie, too.

Till then...Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie.