They’ll Think It’s Filet Mignon

From time to time my supermarket runs a special on a cut of beef they label,  “London Broil.” It’s a lean piece of meat, about 1 1/2 inches thick and tough as shoe leather.

photo credit: Jeremy Keith

You may wonder why I load up my freezer when it goes on sale for around $5 a pound. That’s because I have a secret weapon that turns flank steak, or any other tough cut of beef, into filet mignon. Well, not exactly, because it does not have all the fat of a filet, but so flavorful and so tender, some say it’s even better than filet.

But first, let’s clear up something. Apparently, my store is unaware that there is no cut of beef called  “London Broil.” That refers to a preparation method that involves marinade and seasonings.

What I am buying is flank steak. It comes with no seasonings or marinade. Just plain, tough beef. And that’s okay because I know how to fix that problem.

Magic Marinade

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (1 1/2-pounds) beef flank steak (or cut of your choice)
  1. In a shallow bowl, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, onion, ginger, and pepper. Place flank steak in a large plastic zipper bag, pour marinade over, zip and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (if possible, two days is ideal), turning occasionally to keep the marinade well distributed.
  2. Heat an outdoor grill to hot. Grill steak for 7 to 8 minutes per side to no more than “medium” or 145 F on a quality instant-read thermometer, like this Thermopop (please, no more well done than medium, or you will be disappointed).
  3. To serve, slice thinly against the grain on the diagonal. Serves 6. Recipe multiplies well.

How Marinades Work to Tenderize

A marinade is a combination of three basic components: acid (vinegar, wine, citrus, soy sauce, coffee) spices and oil. The acid is the key ingredient as it helps to break down tough connective tissue in meats and poultry, making them tender. The combination of acid, oil and herbs/spice enhances the flavor. But it takes time. And the longer the meat or poultry sits in and absorbs that marinade, the more tender it will be.

One word of caution: Once you’ve used the marinade to tenderize and flavor meat or poultry, you may be tempted to save it so you can reuse it. Once it’s been in contact with raw meat, it should not be reused as it can harbor bacteria. The unused marinade can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for later use.

Other Marinades

Here are some general recipes for other marinades. Use them with meat or poultry. While the proportions are important, you can multiply these recipes to accommodate how much meat or poultry you need to prepare.

All-Purpose Marinade

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 cups olive oil

Coffee Marinade

  • 1 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Mediterranean Marinade

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

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