Monday, September 30, 2013


Steak-for many people, that single word equals fine dining. For me, not so much. I never have been a big fan, probably never will; for me the problem is that most steak cuts (filet mignon especially, but New York Strip, Ribeye), lack that beefy flavor that I crave. Granted, my experience has generally been limited to the supermarket variety of steaks; at some point I'm going to get some well-aged steaks from a quality outlet like Niman Ranch. Regardless, at this point, I can't justify paying $8-12 for a pound of steak when that money could by my 5 pounds of pork shoulder or belly for sausage, pancetta, or bacon.

Also, I just don't find cooking steak that much fun; since I like my steaks just north of bloody rare, anything longer than a few minutes on a hot grill is criminal. And if the steak is of good quality, some salt and pepper is all that is needed (don't get me started on steaks doused in butter).

But I digress; I don't dislike all steaks, there are some cuts of beef that do meet my impossibly high standards, and, keeping with the general theme of this blog, they are generally the less desirable cuts. One in particular is flank steak; when you eat it, you know that it came from a cow. Granted, flank steak can be tough, but only if you don't know how to cook/serve it.

My personal favorite dish when I'm craving beef are fajitas: some grilled flank steak (I know skirt steak is more authentic, I haven't been able to locate it in C-bus, but then I'm lazy), peppers, onions, all wrapped in a warm tortilla.

My basic meat rub recipe for this comes from Steven Raichlen's How to Grill. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best books on grilling, especially for beginners. My slightly altered version of the rub is as follows (for two pounds of beef):
1 tbsp ancho chili powder
.5 tbsp chipotle chili powder
1.5 tsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp coarse black pepper

Combine all ingrediates and coat the steak thoroughly. I then toss a few tablespoons of lime juice on the steak (helps tenderize it) and rub it with olive oil. I usually marinate it for about 12-18 hours.
In keeping with traditional preperations, I like to grill my flank steak over mesquite wood chunks, which pairs nicely with the beef flavor. You don' need to grill it more than a few minutes a side since flank steaks are so thin.

How you slice the steak will have a big impact on how tender it is. After it has rested a few minutes (being grilled is tiring work), slice the steak against the grain into thin slices on a bias (45 degree angle). You should have long strips of beautiful beef, which, combined with some grilled onions and bell peppers, is all you need for the perfect fajita

I guarentee you won't need any other toppings (salsa, guac, sour cream), the beef if flavorful enough!

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