Sometimes you just feel like eating a steak and since I’ve had my cholesterol checked recently (all is well) that time is now. In recent years I have taken to buying grass fed, organic or otherwise locally farmed beef whenever my tastes turn bovine.
Small-production, grass-fed meat can be a lot more expensive than your average grain-fed beef, just as artisanal cheese costs more than industrial cheddar. So at the same time I have tended to purchase more affordable “bargain” cuts like sirloin, flank, chuck eye and skirt (my personal favorite) rather than a bone-in ribeye or porterhouse. I do realize that a bulk purchase of grass fed beef would significantly lower our over-all cost and we have considered making a freezer commitment. Unfortunately, reality set in and our current abode (a loft-style townhouse) is not roomy enough. Rest assured we will come back to this idea in the future!
Skirt and flank steak are my favorite bargain cuts. They have a rich beef flavor hiding covertly within that protein, just requiring a little thoughtful planning and a good marinade to tease what could be a tougher cut into tender submission. I play around a lot with rubs and marinades for my beef (and other meats too) and in most cases they contain garlic, some type of fruit (I’m partial to citrus) and beer, wine or alcohol, like Bourbon. Lately I’ve been loving the addition of peppers, from smoky and sublime Poblano (Ancho when dried) to kicky with chipotle, jalepeno and New Mexican varieties.
My tips for a great, marinated steak:
- Salt just before grilling (no salt in the marinade)
- Marinate at least 12 hours (24 is much better)
- Allow the meat to come to room temperature (or close to it) before grilling
- Sear the meat off on a clean, hot grill but do not flip it around too much
- Invest in a good quality meat thermometer if you are unsure of your skills in determining meat “doneness”
- Likewise it is not advisable to slice into a steak or other cut of beef to check its “doneness”
- Allow the cooked meat to rest on a warmed platter, covered, before slicing and serving
Ancho Chili Lime Marinated Flank Steak
- 1/3 cup Demera or brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2-3 dried ancho chili peppers
- 2-3 inch piece of fresh ginger
- 1 lime
- 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tbl. ground pepper
- 1 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
- 1 beer
- 2 ½ – 3 lb Flank steak (or skirt or sirloin steak)
Prepare the marinade the day before you plan to grill and serve the steak. In a saucepan heat the water and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil for 30 seconds and then remove from the heat. Add the dried Ancho chilies and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and then grate or finely mince the ginger. Remove the zest from the lime and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Mince or press the garlic. Set aside.
Remove any tough stems fro the Ancho chilies and grind in a food processor or blender along with the soaking liquid. When ground, pour into a bowl and add the garlic, lime zest and juice, ginger, pepper and paprika. Pour in the beer and mix well. Wash and dry the steak. Place the steak in a very large bag or glass dish, pour marinade over and secure bag (or cover with plastic wrap).
Place in the refrigerator to marinate for 24 hours, turning the bag over 2 or 3 times during this time. When ready to cook, prepare your grill. Remove steak from bag and sprinkle liberally with salt. Sear each side and grill to your desired doneness, but I suggest rare or medium rare for best results. When grilling is complete remove to a warmed platter, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5-8 minutes before slicing across the grain.
I bought a really rubbish meat thermometre (it was mechanical i think) and whatever i did it always read ‘rare’ so I got a proper electronic one – but of course havent make anything that needs it yet!