Well, seems summer is finally here… I know this because everyone is now asking me what to put on the grill. I’ve decided to write a quick guide to a few of my favorite marinades for flank steak, which is an inexpensive and versatile cut. Marinating items before grilling helps keep products moist and adds dynamic flavor with no need for separately made sauces.
Now, I am the kind of guy who cooks outside all year long. I will stand in a snow drift a grill steaks over chunk wood charcoal. I am not here to argue the virtues of gas vs. charcoal, either, but keep in mind that all the ideas below come from my wood burning grill.
First off, with all the marinades I present today, I have a somewhat unusual method of marination. I usually mix my marinade in a bag big enough to hold all the items I am marinating. A garbage bag or ziploc, depending on space needed. After mixing the marinade well, in the bag, I will add the meat or vegetables or whatever to it, shake well and then extract as much air as possible from the bag, then cinching it tight. Over the amount of time I have to marinate, I will occasionally turn the bag over. I find this process can help get a lot of flavor in a short amount of time. Minimum, most occasions, you want at least a half hour of marinating time, but usually no more than 2 hours, depending on the size of your item
The first thing I always think of when someone needs a quick grill meal for a group is flank steak. Flank, marinated nicely, grilled and thinly sliced is extremely versatile, lending itself to all kinds of interesting and simple presentations… So let’s start with a few ideas for marinating Flank steak.
Here’s a fun and unusual one, “Korean” style flank steak over noodles. I only call it Korean, because a Korean friend of mine told me it was his dad’s idea. You’ll need soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste (or siracha, or other hot item/sauce, could be jalapenos or Tabasco in a pinch), some ramen noodles (beef flavor), green onions and any other vegetables you might want. Oh, and did I mention a bottle of Pepsi? Pepsi, preferably over other brands of cola.
Ok so simply mix two parts Pepsi to one part soy, add a little sesame oil (any oil will do if you don’t have sesame) and a nice dose of chili paste, depending on how hot you like things. Mix this up well, pour it into your bag add your whole flank steak(s), shake it up, squeeze out the air and tie it off.
While the beef is marinated, go get your grill started. Now have a glass of wine. Twidle your thumbs, play video games, whatever it is you do while you wait for your coals to get ripe.
A few minutes before grilling begins, follow the instructions for making your quick ramen. When done, pull the noodle out of the broth and arrange on your service plates (or put several batches on a platter for family style service). Reserve the broth. I usually wilt some greens in the broth to mix with the noodles, but you could steam or blanch any number of things you might have in the fridge; asparagus, broccoli, carrots, you name it, just cut it think and plunge it into the boiling broth.
Now, grill your flank steak to your liking, try to limit yourself to ‘flipping’ the steak only once. You can turn it a few times, “around the clock”, to prevent deep char marks, but only turn it over one time. Once the beef is at the temperature you prefer, pull it off the grill and let it rest for two or three minutes. You’ll notice that the sugar in the Pepsi form a dark, burnt crust in spots. You may prefer to trim the edges.
Now simply slice your beef, across the grain, at a slight angle, making thin, wide slices. Lay these slices over your noodles, spoon boiling broth over the beef and noodles and garnish with some green onions. Enjoy!
That’s one of my favorites, Here is another quick one for a nice steak salad.
This time our marinade will be astringent as opposed to sweet and will also serve as our salad dressing. You’ll need a red wine (varietal is unimportant), red wine vinegar, fresh garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, a grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Start by putting a small sauce pot onto the stove, add a small amount of olive oil and get it hot. Now crush up some basil with your fingers, tear it and crush it to release the oils, put the leaves in the pot. Crush and chop the garlic, add it to the pot and saute briefly until the edges of the garlic begin to brown. Pour some wine (let’s say about one and a half cups for your average flank steak) and about a third as much red wine vinegar into the pot. Once the mixture has been boiling for about two minutes, remove it from the heat and add a few ice cubes to bring the heat down, add about two cups of olive oil and some black pepper.
Put a sufficient amount of the marinade into a bag with your flank steak and tie it off. Once the marinade is below 100 degrees, you can whisk in your grated cheese, making the dressing as thick or thin as you like.
Let the beef marinate for at least a half hour, cook it and slice it the same as the above recipe. I would toss some nice arugula and romaine together with some of the dressing and lay the beef slices on top with a drizzle more. This dressing works equally well for most other crispy lettuce, as well. Now pour a glass of the remaining red wine and enjoy!
I hope these two super simple marinades help someone enjoy a good meal soon, they work nicely for other proteins as well. If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to contact me. In the meantime, Don’t Be Afraid of Your Kitchen (or grill).