Nothing is quite as satisfying as a juicy, well-prepared steak. While most steaks come from the loin and rib of the steer, flank steak does not. Also known by its French name, bavette, flank steak is cut from the stomach muscle, making it a lean, flat cut that marinates well. Cooked properly, flank steak is moist and flavourful. Overcooking makes the steak tough and chewy.
Grilling Flank Steak
Grilling is one of the most popular methods of preparing flank steak. However, because the steak is relatively thin and has a coarse texture, it is best to marinate the steak first. The marinade will not only boost the steak's flavour, but tenderise the meat. Marinade options are endless. From Asian-inspired marinades featuring ginger and soy sauce to Southwestern-style marinades containing chilli powder, cumin and red pepper, there is a marinade for just about every palate. In Argentina, the classic marinade and condiment chimichurri is frequently used with flank steak.
Once you have selected your marinade, place the meat and the marinade in a shallow glass dish. Turn the meat to make sure it is completely coated. Let the steak marinate at room temperature for at least one hour, turning it occasionally. Some marinade recipes suggest marinating in the refrigerator for a longer time period. But don't let the steak marinate too long if it contains an acidic ingredient like citrus because the texture of the meat may break down.
Grill a two-pound flank steak for five to seven minutes on each side for rare and seven to 10 minutes on each side for medium-rare to medium. Most chefs recommend not preparing flank steak past medium because the meat will dry out and toughen up.
Transfer the meat to a warmed platter once it has reached the desired doneness. Cover the steak loosely with foil and let it stand for three to five minutes. Letting the meat rest allows the juices to settle throughout the meat. The meat's temperature will continue to rise while the steak rests. To serve flank steak, cut it across the grain on the diagonal into slices about one-quarter to one-half inch thick and serve immediately.
Braising Flank Steak
Because flank steak is a tougher cut of meat than a loin or rib steak, it also is ideal for braising. Braising is a method of cooking using moist heat. Most braising is done in the oven. Generally, the meat is marinated and then seared in a hot pan on the hob. The marinade tenderises the meat and the searing gives it a nice caramelised colour. The meat is then placed in a flavourful cooking liquid and is cooked slowly and gently.
For instance, braised beef rolls feature thin slices of flank steak wrapped around a "stuffing" and braised in a savoury liquid. The flank steak wrapper becomes tender and tasty when braised. Some rolls are filled with sausage and cheese while others are filled with broccoli rabe and pancetta. There are a number of options including dishes with German, Italian and French influences.
No matter what cooking method you choose, flank steak is a fairly tender and extremely flavourful cut of beef. If you are cooking flank steak for the first time, choose a time when you won't be hurried. Rushing to prepare the steak can cause mistakes and disappointment in the meal. Patience and practice are the keys to success.