Monday, August 19, 2013

Marinated Flank Steak

Is there any better way to eat steak than having it grilled, medium rare of course? The obvious answer to this rhetorical question is no, but I realize that not everyone appreciates a medium-rare steak (this opinion is likely to offend those of you who grew up eating steak on the well-done side, but please don't take offense). I grew up in a house where most red meats were not cooked medium-rare, but rare which influenced greatly my doneness preference for red meat, particularly steak. And sometimes it on really rare side, causing some coming to dinner at our house to wonder if the meat was actually cooked (particularly those who grew up or lived in a house where everything was cooked well done or slightly beyond well done). My theory about those who eat ketchup with red meat and those who don't is that those who grew up with well done red meat needed to add flavor to it, while those of us growing up eating medium rare to rare red meat experienced all of the flavor in the meat. Most likely this theory will now further add insult to injury to those of you reading this blog. But before you decide to stop reading or completely give up reading this blog, for the record, I have nothing against ketchup and understand that everyone has their own personal taste preferences.

But maybe I really I want to convince you the medium to well-done meat eaters there is another way to experience red meat. A flank steak marinated in garlic, soy sauce, extra-virgin olive oil, honey and rosemary and then grilled to medium-rare is so flavorful that I think it will appeal to those with different doneness preferences as well as make the ketchup lovers abandon the need for it. Could there be any recipe that would cause anyone to give up a lifetime of eating preferences? Yes, there could be.

And as much as I love a great grilled ribeye or filet, I would choose a grilled marinaded flank steak if given the choice. Not only is it less expensive, when marinaded and cut across the grain, it is incredibly tender and flavorful. For a gathering of family or friends, this is a dish that is certain to make for a memorable meal. And it just might be the red meat doneness game changer.

The grilling time for the flank steak ranges from 10 to 14 minutes, depending on the thickness of the flank steak. A smaller one pound flank steak might even get to the perfect medium rare level of doneness in 8 to 10 minutes (4 to 5 minutes per side).

Seriously, how could any steak marinating in garlic, soy sauce, extra-virgin olive oil, honey and rosemary (plus salt and pepper) not taste insanely delicious? With the exception of fresh rosemary, you most likely have all of the other marinade ingredients in your pantry. This marinade is so good that it might even want you to consider to growing rosemary in your garden or having a rosemary plant in a container on your patio or porch. There is enough marinade for up to 3 to 3 1/2 pounds of flank steak even though this recipe calls for a 2 to 2 1/2 pound flank steak.

I find the aroma of minced garlic and chopped rosemary intoxicating. As easy as it is to put the marinade together I find myself taking my time with its' preparation so I can take in its' scent. When the marinade is finished I like to put the flank steak and marinade in a ziploc bag (easy clean up, easier to flip in the refrigerator). The flank steak marinates for at least 2 hours, but I usually allow it to marinate for 4 to 6 hours.

On a grill heated to medium-high the flank steak is removed from the marinade and placed directly on the hot grill. The bits of garlic and rosemary add to grilling aroma. It is a good thing that the cook time on this steak is relatively short because once everyone inhales the aroma of the garlic and rosemary they will instantly become hungrier.

But once the flank steak is off the grill, you will have to make everyone wait just a little longer as it needs to rest for at least 5 minutes before it is cut across the grain into thin strips. The resting period allow the juices to remain in the steak when its' cut. So make sure you have wine, cocktails or appetizers to distract your guests (and temporarily curb their enthusiasm) while you preparing the platter of sliced medium rare strips of flank steak. In one bite of the marinated flank steak, their patience will be rewarded as in just one bite all of layers of flavors of the marinade and the steak itself can be tasted. And there is at least one other outcome of this dish. You just might not grill any other steaks for the rest of summer.

Marinated Flank Steak (slightly adapted version of recipe created by Chamberlain's Prime Chop House, Texas)

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoons honey 
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 Tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Flank steak (at least 2 to 2 1/2 pounds)

1. Mix soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil, honey, minced garlic, chopped rosemary, pepper and salt in medium sized bowl. Whisk until blended.
2. Place flank steak in a gallon size Ziploc baggie. Pour marinade in, seal baggie and place marinading flank steak in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (up to 6 hours). Turn baggie several times to ensure the flank steak is covered in marinade.
3. Heat grill to a medium-high heat. Remove flank steak from marinade and place on the grill. 
4. Cook to desired doneness. About 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium rare.
5. Remove cooked flank steak from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
6. Cut across grain into thin strips. Arrange on platter and serve.

In addition to the apple orchards, blueberry farms, pumpkin farms, and Christmas tree farms, the landscape here also is filled with cornfields. The farmers market and roadside stands usually sell out of native corn on a daily basis. So if by mid-afternoon you have not had the chance to buy some fresh native corn, you most likely will have a cornless meal. A catastrophe if everyone was looking forward to having grilled or steamed corn or if other than a salad you had not put together another vegetable. The old adage 'the early bird gets the worm' (or in this case the corn) seems to continue to be a timeless truism.

Whenever I have procrastinated on doing something I have generally wanted to kick myself as I make it harder on myself. On a lesser number of occasions, my delay has been a good thing, but this is more the exception than the rule. So if it is easier to not procrastinate I wonder why so many of us do it? Fear of conflict, fear of being too eager, waiting for someone else to do it or take the lead, fear of the unknown,  no sense of urgency, avoidance, disorganization or disinterest? The list of reasons is probably endless, but the outcomes of procrastinating are generally not, generally not positive. So if the outcomes are generally not positive, why would any of us intentionally procrastinate? I wish I could just answer that question for myself.

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