By: Leah A. Zeldes
What it is: Flank steak is a lean, flat, flavorful cut of beef popular for grilling and frequently used in Mexican and Chinese cooking.
Where it comes from: Flank steaks are long muscles in the belly of a steer. There are two flank steaks per beef animal.
What to do with it: Flank steak can be chewy, so it’s best sliced across the grain. The meat may also come with a thin silver skin that should be removed before cooking. Flank steak benefits from tenderizing marinades and mechanical tenderizing. It’s sometimes made into London broil, and often used as a filling for tacos. It can be braised or stewed, but it’s usually cooked quickly — in fact, it’s sometimes called “jiffy steak” — by pan frying, stir-frying, broiling or grilling.
Although Brazilian beef cuts are somewhat different than those of the U.S., and flank steak doesn’t have a precise equivalent (the nearest is fraldinha, also translated as bottom sirloin), the Texas de Brazil restaurants (River North and (Schaumburg) offer grilled flank steak among their churrasco selections. Evandro Caregnato, culinary director, offers these grilling tips:
Use a good quality hardwood charcoal (the key to getting that smoky grill flavor). Wait until the charcoal is completely burned, not flaming. The charcoal must be glowing and covered with a white ash. Cover the beef with salt just seconds before placing it on the grill. Never rub the salt into the beef. Keep the meat 12 inches away from the charcoal. Cook the meat until it is a golden brown. Use an instant-read or meat thermometer to check for doneness — 145 degrees for rare steak, 160 degrees for medium and 170 degrees for well done. Texas de Brazil’s Churrasco de flank steak Flank steak Brazilian-style Chef Evandro Caregnato 1 4-pound flank steak (do not remove fat) Brazilian sal grosso or rock salt Prepare a medium-high to hot fire with charcoal or wood in an open barbecue grill. Place the grid as close as possible to the coals. Apply a generous coating of rock salt to the flank steak without rubbing it in; the salt must be loose or the meat will be too salty. Grill the meat about 5 minutes on each side for medium rare, turning only once. When the meat tests done, grab the flank steak with large tongs and hit the meat with the side of a large knife to knock off the extra salt. Let the meat rest for a few minutes before slicing it.
Serve with chimichurri sauce, if desired. 8 to 12 servings. Chimichurri sauce 1 cup olive oil 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic 1 tablespoons dried oregano 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper Salt to taste Combine all ingredients. Use as a marinade for beef or chicken or as a table sauce for the meat after grilling. The mixture can be stored, covered and refrigerated, for about two weeks. About 2 cups.