I had a nice flank steak marinating in all kinds of goodness last Saturday, with the intention of grilling it Sunday, but the weather and life in general had other plans. It drizzled all day, and then the person I was supposed to cook for decided they wanted Thai food, and no one else was around at short notice to eat with me. I was feeling pretty glum about all of this. It’s one thing to eat alone if you’re just eating a salad or leftovers, but sitting down to a 2-lb. steak by yourself just makes you feel slightly ridiculous. It sits on a platter in its burnished glory, juices pooling, mocking you with its heft and surplus. No, flank steak is meant to be made for multiple people, not one pint-sized female who can only eat a few measly slices before becoming too full.
Nevertheless, I had already been marinating the meat for 24 hours, and didn’t want to gamble with letting it sit any longer, so I valiantly tried to get the grill going. I should mention that, while I have “grilled” many times, I have never actually lit a grill as there has always been someone (ok, a guy) around to do it (hey, I have to make them feel they are contributing in some small way, right?). So I don’t know exactly what went wrong, but the coals would not light despite the copious amount of lighter fluid I dispensed all over them (and it wasn’t even raining aymore at that point).
On to plan B- the broiler. I have never broiled steak before either, but I figured I would just wing it. I didn’t do too badly- the steak was more medium-well than the medium-rare I was going for, but it wasn’t ruined by any means, and the marinade (which I simmered on the stove and used as a sauce) was outstanding. If coffee in a marinade sounds too weird, please just trust me and try this. The coffee blends really well with the other flavors and adds an unexpected depth. Plus, assuming you don’t eat this alone like I did, you can play a fun game with your dinner guests having them guess the secret ingredient. If you want to do wine with this (and why not?) you could try a peppery Shiraz to complement the black pepper in the sauce. I’ll be posting soon on the potato salad in the photo as well, so stay tuned for that too!
They say that if you get one really great recipe out of a cookbook to add to your repertoire, it’s worth the purchase. At today’s $35-and-up cookbook prices and free recipes on blogs everywhere, I’m not sure if that’s absolutely true, but I will say that this recipe makes this particular book worthwhile for me. (I have to confess, it’s the only one I’ve made so far from the book, but if enthusiastic Amazon reviewers are to be believed, it’s certainly not the only one that’s worth trying!) The recipe takes less than 30 minutes active prep time, yet has so much more of a “wow” factor than many dishes which take hours to prepare. Needless to say, your sauce will only be as good as the coffee you use, so please take care to use a quality coffee that’s not too harsh or acidic.
1 flank steak, 1 1/2- 2 lbs
1 cup espresso or strong brewed coffee
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tbs dijon mustard
1 tbs neutral vegetable oil
1 tsp coarsely gound black pepper
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Whisk together all the marinade ingredients (i.e. everything but the steak) and place in a sealable plastic bag or flat, shallow container large enough to hold the meat. Rinse the meat, pat dry, and place in the marinade, covered, for 2 hours minimum (up to 24 hours). Turn occasionally.
Heat the grill of your choice to medium-high heat. Remove the steak from the marinade, scraping any clinging sauce and shallots back into the dish with a spatula. Pat the steak dry, and oil and salt the surface lightly. Grill 3-6 minutes per side, taking care not to overcook (because it is so lean, flank steak is best served on the rare side). Baste with the marinade while cooking, reserving at least 1/2 cup. When done, set on a platter to rest, tented with foil, while you finish the sauce (let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing).
Put the remaining marinade in a small saucepan and bring to the boil along with any juices that collect on the platter. Reduce to a simmer and cook for a minute or two; the sauce should thicken slightly. Slice the steak thinly against the grain and spoon the sauce over to serve.