One flank, three meals

Photo by Keri White

I’m a fan of flank steak. It is crowd pleasing, relatively inexpensive (for beef) and, as I discovered, can cover a couple of meals if the cook is strategic and creative.

Because it is a tougher cut, flank steak requires some marinating and is best cooked to medium rare. In the past, I generally bought a larger steak, say 2½ pounds, but the butcher only had smaller ones on offer. We were having dinner guests Sunday night, and I needed to get this meat into the marinade on Saturday, so I bought several smaller steaks, about a pound each.

As it turned out, they were easier to manage on the grill and cooked very evenly. Henceforth, I shall opt for multiple smaller steaks over the larger slab.

After the Sunday evening dinner, there was quite a bit of steak left, so I put it away and mulled over how to use it most effectively. After a fairly indulgent weekend, Monday suggested a salad topped with slices of the cold, lean flank steak, and then Tuesday, well, what else but tacos?


Grilled Flank Steak

Serves 2 with ample leftovers

I had misguidedly purchased Guinness in bottles a few months back. This is apparently a sacrilege to serious beer drinkers; Guinness cans are the way to go — they all contain some type of magic ball widget that boosts the flavor and mimics draft beer.

Who knew? I always thought cans were the lesser option — and in truth that may still be the case in all but Guinness. But I digress. The point was, I had a six-pack of Guinness bottles gathering dust and wanted to use them. A marinade suggested itself. One bottle down, five to go.

Be sure to save the juice drippings for the leftovers, and only cut what you need to serve for the first meal. The meat retains a better flavor and texture if cut just before serving.

We rounded out this meal with some good quality bread, a Caesar salad and a tomato arugula salad, but it goes with just about anything — grilled, steamed or roasted veggies; mashed potatoes; pasta; rice; or polenta.

2 pounds flank steak (2 1-pound steaks are ideal for cooking and convenience)
1 cup dark beer
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 jalapeno, finely minced
¼ cup oil
1 tablespoon honey

In a large zip-close bag or Tupperware container, mix all the ingredients except the meat. Add the meat, turn it over to coat and refrigerate it for 24 hours.

Remove the steak from refrigerator the 2 hours before cooking to bring it to room temperature.

Heat a grill and cook the steaks, 4-6 minutes per side for medium rare, for a total time of 8-12 minutes, depending on thickness.

Remove the steaks to a plate and cover with foil to rest for about 5 minutes. Slice thinly, on a diagonal, across the grain for maximum flavor and tenderness.

Second-Day Steak Salad

Serves 2
The oven-roasted tomatoes deliver a flavorful burst and can be swapped for a traditional dressing — adding vitamins and cutting some fat.

Make a bunch and use them another day for a caprese salad, a pasta topping or schmeared on bruschetta. Dumping them on the salad straight from the oven brings a welcome hot/cold contrast, but they are perfectly delightful chilled atop this dish as well if you have made them in advance.

I am a fan of arugula, but any lettuce (except, arguably, iceberg) works just fine here. Pick your favorite, use whatever you have on hand, or pick and mix a blend for flavor and texture variety.

6 cups lettuce, rinsed and torn if leaves are large
1 cup roasted tomatoes with their juice (see note)
½ cucumber, peeled and sliced
⅓ cup homemade or good-quality croutons
6 slices cooked flank steak

Place the lettuce in a large, shallow bowl. Scatter the croutons and cucumbers on top of the lettuce.

Pour the roasted tomatoes with juice over salad and toss. Top with sliced flank steak and serve immediately.

Note: To roast tomatoes, heat your oven to 400 degrees. Rinse 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes and scatter them in a single layer in a pie plate or other small baking dish. Sprinkle them with a half-teaspoon of kosher salt, a generous grinding of fresh cracked pepper and a tablespoon of good olive oil.

Toss well and roast, shaking and stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes until the tomatoes are starting to burst and blacken and they are giving off a good bit of juice.

Use as desired. Cook’s tip: This can be scaled up easily and they keep in the fridge for at least a week; it makes sense to do a large batch, especially if you find cherry tomatoes on sale.

Tuesday Tacos

Serves 2
Soaking the sliced steak in the lime dressing for a few minutes (or longer) and heating quickly before serving ensures that it stays moist and flavorful even after sitting in the fridge, leftover, for a few days.

8 slices flank steak
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch salt
Pinch ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons mild-flavored oil, such as canola or vegetable
Taco fixings: tortillas, avocados, chopped red onion, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, cilantro sprigs or your favorite salsas.

In a shallow bowl, mix the lime juice, spices and oil. Place the steak slices in the dressing and turn to coat thoroughly. Let the steak sit for a few minutes or a few hours.

Right before serving, pour the steak and dressing into a skillet and heat briefly. Serve immediately with your favorite taco fixings.

Keri White is a Philadelphia-area food writer.

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