Flank Steak Story

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Of all the food and drink pairings, the greatest, I think, is the pairing of red meat and red wine. Sure, you have your champagne and oysters, your blue cheese and port. But give me a caramelized cut of ribeye and pair it with a spicy Syrah and I’m in heaven–a very red heaven.

On Saturday, then, I wanted to bring this combination home after spending the afternoon cleaning with Craig. I ventured out to Union Market which is Park Slope’s more high-end mart. I go there when I buy meat and fish; everything else, I do ok at Key Foods. I was all set to buy ribeye but then I remembered: ribeye is expensive. $25/pound expensive and each ribeye was one pound.

So I turned to the flank steak. One pound of flank steak was $11 (as far as I recall) and the butcher said one pound of flank steak should feed two people fine. “Make sure to cut it against the grain,” he added, “and on an angle.”

But what to serve it with? I could’ve made this a standard steak and potatoes dinner. But ever since I made my ribeye for one this summer, I love the pairing of steak with a bold salad: raw red onion, tomato, cucumber, oil, vinegar and some kind of cheese.

Since it’s winter, tomatoes are way out of season except, as other chefs have pointed out, cherry tomatoes do ok year-round. So I bought cherry tomatoes on the vine, cucumber, onion and feta cheese and came home and produced the plate you see in the picture above.

How did I do it? It took all of 15 minutes. First, I took the cherry tomatoes on the vine, put them on a cookie sheet, coated them in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and popped in a 400 degree oven until they “popped”: about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, I cut the cucumbers and onions thickly and tossed them with olive oil, red wine vinegar and a hit of balsamic, plus salt and pepper.

Finally, while I was doing all this, I was heating my skillet. I wanted it to be blazing hot and still, even though it was on the highest flame for about 5 minutes, I don’t think it was hot enough. Next time I’ll do what I did with that ribeye: Alton’s method of putting the pan in a 500 degree oven to get it super super super hot. That’s what I’ll do next time.

Still, the flank steak turned out very tasty, if not as caramelized on the outside as I would’ve liked. I rubbed the meat with olive oil, coated in lots of salt and pepper and threw in the pan where it shot off a cloud of smoke. (The smoke detector went off: that’s how you know you’re really cooking).

About 3-5 minutes per side, or until it gets a golden brown color. Mine was golden brown in spots, but also gray, and again I wish I’d gotten the pan hotter. And dried the meat with paper towels before coating in oil.

Still, cooked like this, the meat was perfectly rare on the inside. I did as the butcher said and, after letting it rest for 10 minutes, I cut it on the bias against the grain. And served it as you see above, sprinkling the entire plate–the roasted tomatoes, the steak, and the cucumber/onion salad with feta cheese.

It was dynamite and you’re probably wondering: what did you pair it with?

At my local wine ship (Red, White & Bubbly) I bought a marked down bottle of Spanish wine. Let me go look at the label…

…a 2002 Crianza Albarroble. I have no idea what any of that means, but it was spicy and tasty and went wonderfully with the meat.

Again, what’s better than red meat and red wine? And if you cook flank steak for $11 and pair it with a $10 bottle of wine, you can have this elegant dinner for two for less than $30.

Ruth Chris is rolling around in her grave.

25 comments

  1. How tasty! And I agree, wine pairings can be a pain, especially considering that even the top chefs can’t seem to agree on some basic universal truth regarding which wine goes with with cheese, previously everyone agreed that red wine was the only way to go, nowadays we drink white wine with a variety of cheese, which naturally leaves one confused! There really is only one way to go: If it tastes good, do it!!

    I myself usually consult this nifty table:

    http://gourmetsleuth.com/cpairing.htm,

    to get some sense of what to buy, but this is entirely cheese related!

    Again, the food looks great as usual, I think ill make some of those tomatoes myself while cramming for a statistics final:)

  2. I’m certain this will be pointed out by other people, but Ruth is actually Ruth Fertel, Ruth’s Chris is the name of the chain. She bought the Chris steakhouse and called it Ruth’s Chris.

    That said, I’d much rather have your flank steak than a Ruth’s Chris most days. It sounds (and looks) fantastic! I’m going to remember the tomato-popping trick, that’s a great idea.

    Now re-engaging lurk mode…

  3. Dear Amateur Gourmet,

    A ‘Crianza’ wine use to be a wine in it’s third year that have spent at least one whole year in a ‘Barrica’ -timber barrel-

    The Albarroble is a Castilian wine, from the Almansa area, made using Syrah and Garnacha Tintorera grapes. Probably, being a 2002 wine it could a bit be past its prime, since the Crianza wines usually don’t get any better after those three years, but fine nonetheless. If you ever come to Spain, drop me a line and I’ll be more than happy to suggest you some local wines :)

    Reading you is always a pleasure. Best regards from Spain (not the sunny part),

    David

  4. Yo AG, have you ever done a fajita sort of treatment for flank steak? (skirt steak works very well too) – it is oh so tasty! Just try marinating the meat (for at least a few hours or overnight) in varying amounts (to taste) of: olive or veggie oil, lime juice, salt, pepper, chili powder, pinch of cumin, worcestershire sauce and sliced garlic.

  5. Are you serious…you sure you didn’t just nip to Orlando and were peering in my house? I made nearly the exact same thing Sat. night. Flank steak seared, so much smoke I had to open all the windows and doors in a preventative measure. Even down to the popped, roasted tomatoes, red onion..but then I veered off and went with lime juice, cilantro, and queso fresco…Oh yeah!

  6. Looks tasty. Try skipping the oil on the steak next time – works for me anyway. You don’t say if you’re using cast iron, but that is the way to go for a good sear/crust. It retains heat very well and won’t cool down when the steak hits the pan – especially key if you have a weak stove.

  7. Try pairing this meal with a Belgian sour brown beer or a stout or a porter next time. This meal looks great, and seems to scream beer rather than wine to me.

  8. Adam – I hate to comment here but I’m not sure where else to comment. I LOVE the new banner! Haha you’re too funny….at first I was wondering why you’d be holding a scantily clad woman but then I figured out it was Britney!

  9. Rachael Ray eat your heart out. Looks great. I can see myself eating this while watching American Gladiators my latest guilty pleasure.

  10. I am one that cooks with charcoal on the grill all the time. But in the last couple years I have learned how to make incredible skirt steak with Mexican dishes on the stove. I season my skirt steak with “Head Country Championship Seasoning”, garlic salt and fajita seasoning. I turn my heat up to hot and coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Then I sear the steak a couple minutes each side. Then place in the oven at 250 degrees for 15-20 minutes, this tenderizes the steak. Better Way

  11. We enjoyed flank steak last night too! However, I used a London broil cut. Marinated it in a zip lock bag for at least 3 hours with an 8 oz. bottle of shiraz (one of the 4 little bottles in a carrier; any inexpensive red wine will do) approx. 1/4 c. low sodium wheat-free tamari, 1/2 c. pineapple juice, juice of one big lemon, 2 cloves sliced garlic and several good grinds of the pepper mill. Grill over medium-high heat, approx. 6 minutes per side. Let it rest for 10 minutes and cut thinly against the grain. Boil the marinade and thicken with a little corn starch if you want a sauce. Enjoy with a good glass of wine. Just like Mom used to make, except she left it on the counter all day in a Pyrex to marinate!!!

  12. I’m a big flank steak fan. I like to marinated it overnight and grill it over high heat. I then slice it for tacos, fajitas or salads. Delicious, and in my market, not as inexpensive as it used to be. The secret is getting out!

  13. The only cut I like as much as flank steak is hangar steak. My local Kroger carries hangar steaks cryovac-ed. I like to do flank steak and hangar steak Mark Bittman’s way — heat up a cast iron skillet on the top shelf on BROIL, season the meat, and plop in your steak. Flanks are great this way, especially if marinated beforehand. Hangars don’t even need that, simply salt and pepper and smoked paprika. You’ve got dinner in less than 8 minutes.

  14. I just finished Amateur Gourmet and I loved it. Haha that episode of good eats with the steak is one of my favorites. I thought you were supposed to let it finish in the oven too, or is it hard to get the meat rare like you wanted? Good call with rubbing the meat in olive oil, because it adds to the crust, but I think canola oil would work a little better than olive only because the smoke point of canola is 435 degrees while olive is only 375.

  15. Just wanted to pop in to second your shopping locales. We live in Fort Greene but Red White and Bubbly is by far my favorite wine shop – highly recommended. Also, the grocery trip usually entails a walk over to 6th for Union’s skirt steak and fish and then back up to Key Food for everything else. The husband and I reason that even though its more expensive, Union’s meat and fish are quality and still less expensive than even a mediocre meal out. Have you noticed that they have an aged beef cabinet now? Is this a marketing ploy or worth the extra bux?

    Skirt steak is so rich and lovely, its great on its own, but we are also partial to rubbing the meat with chili cumin and some lime first. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

    Highly anticipating the new Greene Grape Provisions in my hood – Wild Edibles fish, locally raised chicken and eggs, Balthazaar bread. I have a feeling I am going to be eating a lot more fish now.