Sometimes you just need some steak and potatoes. And here at the farm, after a few weeks of experimenting with kale recipes and creative Mixology Monday cocktails (think of it as a simultaneous mix of indulging and cleansing), a good back-to-basics dinner is always welcome. And this is where simple recipes really shine, a few good ingredients, a touch of extra time, a little technique and you have a very lovely meal. And there are few simpler, and few better, dishes than pan seared flank steak with herb butter (potato recipe coming soon).
Flank steak, even with its recent surge in popularity, is a relatively affordable cut of meat with deep, beefy flavor. The key to flank steak is to choose the right cooking method and to serve it thinly sliced against the grain. We can’t stress this enough. But unlike some cuts, the grain on a flank steak is very easy to see, just cut across it. And while it will look prettier if you cut diagonally (or “on the bias”), thin vertical cuts will give you the most tender meat.
As for the cooking method, we are all for outdoor high-heat grilling (or even a long, slow sous-vide cook, followed by grilling or pan-searing), but the quick, easy way to cook a flank steak is to pan fry it briefly in a very, very hot pan. Just be sure it is a heavy pan (cast iron is very good here), your kitchen is well-ventilated and you use a high-heat cooking fat like bacon fat or peanut oil. Then you cook the flank steak for 5-7 minutes (for medium-rare) on each side, until well-browned, then let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. The meat will finish its cooking during the rest, and the juices will also settle and not run all over your cutting board when you slice. Again, a little extra time makes a difference.
There are a few other steps that will help take this dish over the top. Pre-salting the meat at least 4 hours, and preferably 6-12 hours, before you cook will amplify the already excellent flavor of the steak. Wiping the steak dry with a paper towel, right before cooking, will remove excess moisture and help brown the outside of the steak and form a beautiful and flavorful crust. And if you want to be a bit fussy (and sometimes we do), take the steak out of the pan when you flip and wait 1-2 minutes before you cook the other side of the steak. The pan cools while you cook, so letting it reheat will help you evenly brown both sides. A few little things, but you will notice the difference. Continue reading