Fast Flank Steak

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A recent trend in cookbooks is the quick-and-easy, fast-and-simple approach to cooking.  The thirty minute meal is nearly passé as some of the most glamorous chefs in the business are writing accessible, user-friendly, and super speedy recipe books for the home chef.  Popular now is a “1-2-3″ approach and poof!  You have a great meal on the table that is fine enough for entertaining.

So here is a fast and fabulous recipe that I put together in the spirit of “1-2-3″ for a great and versatile cut–  the flank steak.

I wanted to find a way to stop second guessing whether the steak was really done.  In  my early experiences with flank, I was destroying it by over cooking it into a tough, tasteless, and  gray chewfest.  This anxiety about killing the cut eventually led to undercooking it.  The outside looked perfect and the inside remained a very bloody, lukewarm mess. How to know?

The primary objective of the following recipe is not speed, though it does qualify as a 1-2-3 recipe.  I’ve just tweaked the name to 2-2-2 Marinated Flank Steak, and you’ll see why.  It’s easy to remember this recipe as it’s mostly about technique, not ingredients.

In fact, you might be surprised to find out how to get the perfectly seared and moistly cooked marinated flank steak every time.

 RECIPE FOR 2-2-2 MARINATED  FLANK  STEAK

Here’s the basic technique:

–2 hours of marination

–2 minutes in the microwave 

–2 minutes/side in a hot  frying pan

Now before you go all ballistic about the microwave part, keep reading.

MARINADE

Use your favorite marinade recipe.  It doesn’t matter!  Go Asian, Italian, Greek, or Mexican.  They all will work. (OK.  Even bottled will work, though it tends to be higher in sugar and salt, which means the flank might burn more easily at the high temps in the fry pan.)

For this posts’ version, I created my own recipe for an Asian marinade that is easy to remember because it also uses “2″ as its magic number. (See very bottom of this post.)  If you want easy marinade recipes for Greek or Italian, etc, contact me.

Also, you can post your own favorite marinade recipe below in the Replies.  Hungry people want to know!

(See recipe for this Asian marinade at the bottom of this post. Hmm.  Is that  mari-NAID, or mari-NAHHD?)

In a ziplock bag, pour in a generous cup of  your marinade.  Add the flank, squeeze out the air, and seal the bag.

You don’t need much.  You don’t want to drown the poor thing!

Massage the marinade into the meat and marinate for 2 hours, flipping and massaging again after one hour.

(Go do something else while it marinates.  You are not cooking yet. This is a great recipe for multi-tasking.)

HINT:  Since my flank steak was well-chilled when I put it in the bag, I did not refrigerate the bag for the two hours.  If you do, then your meat will not be approaching room temperature when you cook it.  That’s a problem, because the inside of the meat will be very difficult to heat during the cooking process.  The steak will be fine on your counter because it’s in a sealed bag in a slightly acidic concoction, so no need to put into fridge.  If you want to marinate it longer and do so in the fridge, just plan accordingly so that you can let the meat sit out a bit before cooking. It won’t take long at all because the cut is thin.

Next, remove the steak from the bag, and  reserve the marinade in the plastic bag.

Place meat on microwave safe dish and blast it for 2 minutes, uncovered.

Calm down… It won’t hurt the meat.

Avoid plastic wrap, please. If you cover the dish, the meat will steam and give up too much of its juice.

Then, coat a heavy bottomed pan with 2 TBSP of oil  (you chose which you prefer for searing in high heat. I like either olive oil or vegetable).

Crank up the heat, and when the oil starts to jump,add the meat.  There should be an audible hiss as the meat hits the hot pan.

Sear on each side for 2 minutes.

The meat will begin to shrink a bit, but good things are happening inside.

Remove the meat from pan and put it aside while you pour the remaining marinade from the bag, plus 2 TBSP of water, into the pan.

Lower the heat and let the sauce reduce for 2 minutes. If you wish, add more water.  It will tighten up quickly.

Return the meat to the pan and cook covered for…yup… 2 minutes (1 minute on each side).

Remove from heat, and let the steak rest for a good quarter of an hour or so.  Then slice the meat on an angle, cutting across the grain.

Juicy, tender, and very flavorful. Best served medium rare.  And wonderful in sandwiches, too.

 Got any ideas for sides?  Tell us what you think would help round out this main dish.

====================

Recipe for Asian marinade:  2 Tbsp of oil (sesame or olive of combo of both), 2 Tbsp of vinegar (white balsamic or white rice or combo of both), 2 Tbsp of paste made from Thai red curry and lemongrass paste, 2 Tbsp of chopped green onions, 2 cloves of garlic or more, and if you wish, 2 tsp of brown sugar, 2 Tbsp of soy (but salt to taste is better, because soy is sometimes a little funky in a marinade, but that’s my POV).  Stir well.

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