A Tale of Two Flank Steaks

Apologies to Dickens. There’s not much in the way of interesting narrative or characterization here, just a single post on the way I treat flank steak to make it edible—unless you need it to re-sole a shoe. Before getting the new charcoal grill this summer, I hadn’t fooled with a flank steak for a long, long time. Mostly—and I mean decades ago—I stuffed and rolled them, as that was the only recipe for them in my old Betty Crocker. But even back in the 60s, it was recommended to score the flank steak first, partly to make it easier to roll around stuffing, but also to make it more tender. The meat roll was braised in the oven for 2 hours and the result was okay, but I’d just as soon make a bracciole with pounded round steak. Yes, many people pound a flank steak for bracciole, but it’s a huge job pounding a flank steak; in fact, I think my shoulder still aches from trying that.

But, I digress. this post is not about braising a meat roll.

My point is that scoring a flank steak in a cross-grain diamond pattern seems to have been forgotten by a lot of cooks. Mostly, we do it to the fat on a holiday ham, maybe studding the diamonds with cloves. For grilling a flank steak, it’s a necessity. I’ve done it twice now in a couple of weeks, the first time using a dry rub, and this time with a wet marinade, but both eaten in tortillas with a variety of good toppings. I probably can’t convince you of the necessity of scoring unless you grill one as is, marinated or not, and then try it again after scoring. You will be amazed and delighted. After marinating, you grill the flank steak for about 5 minutes per side for medium rare, although the thinner ends might be more done—it won’t matter, though, because even the medium or well-done ends will be tender and delicious.

Scoring should be at about a 1/8″ depth and definitely not more than 1/4″. Sharpen your knife to be able to make easy cuts without a lot of downward force—you don’t want to cut through to the bottom, but you do want to score both sides and still have a middle.

It was really cold and windy out yesterday, and I didn’t get pics of the wet rub steak on the grill; I just threw it on and ran into the house.

My wet rub used lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt, and ground chipotle. I think we liked this wet rub better than the dry rubs I often use. It had a nice kick from the lime and chipotle, and a better charred surface. I let the steak marinate for about 6 hours before grilling over direct heat at about 400°.

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