Flank steak is one of my favourite cuts of beef for the barbecue because it has great flavour and is extremely tender when cut and prepared properly.
Beef flank steak is a long and flat cut of meat from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It is significantly tougher than other cuts of meat as it comes from a strong wellexercised part of the cow. The direction of the grain of the meat is prominently visible, especially in the raw form. Moist heat techniques, such as braising, will be successful in making the meat tender, but it can also be simply grilled to a rare/mediumrare/medium doneness, then sliced thinly across the grain, and still be very tender.
I have witnessed many chefs on TV state that one must marinate a flank steak before grilling in order for it to be tender.
This is not true. Although marinating is fine to do with a flank steak, it is an optional step, not a requirement. The acid in a marinade will break down the connective tissue over time, but I have barbecued so many flank steaks that have been melt-in-yourmouth tender, with no marinating whatsoever.
The secret is to make sure you don't overcook the steak and then slice it thinly in the opposite direction of how the grain of the meat is running (across the grain).
My preferred way of preparing flank steak is to first coat it with a spice rub, grill it to the desired doneness, let it rest for a few minutes, slice it very thinly across the grain, and then drizzle it with garlic butter. When slic-ing it thinly, I also make sure I slice it on an angle, approximately 45 degrees. Flank steak is a very thin cut of meat, and slicing it on a 45-degree angle will make more elongated slices.
Letting it rest after cooking will help the steak to retain more of its juices. I let a flank steak rest for at least five minutes.
I have also seen chefs on TV take a knife and "score" the flank steak before going into their marinade - in my opinion, this is incorrect as well.
This goes against one of the golden rules of grilling meats: Never pierce your meat. If you pierce your meat (by jabbing a fork into it for flipping, or cutting into it), then valuable juices will be lost.
And always use tongs to flip your steak, not a fork.
Visit Chef Dez at www. chefdez.com. Send your food/ cooking questions to dez@ chefdez.com or PO Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C., V2T 6R4.