This zesty marinated flank steak is a real treat, whether you sizzle it on the grill or in a frying pan on the stove top. The simple 5-ingredient marinade adds tons of flavour, and the steak only needs a quick blast over the flames to sear the outside to charred deliciousness and keep the inside juicy and tender. Served with a rich dark glaze made of the reduced marinade, it becomes the star of the meal. (Skip to recipe.)
Alberta has a lot of great things going for it, two of which are its stunning mountains and its world famous beef raised on vast cattle ranches on our prairies and foothills.
Flank steak is a fantastically tasty way to showcase some of that flavourful, tender beef. This relatively inexpensive cut of meat comes from the animal’s belly muscle, where it gets a lot of action (which equates to flavour), helping the cow to twist and walk. It is a large, flat piece of meat , consisting of long fibers with almost no fat.
Flank steak is also known by the names of London Broil, flank filet, Jiffy steak, Bavette steak (French), or Arrachera (Spanish), and is the cut most commonly used for fajitas and sometimes stir fries. It contains lots of beefy flavour, but also has the potential for toughness. However, with proper preparation and cooking, you can avoid that and serve a delicious cut of meat. Flank steak is almost always cooked whole, to rare or medium rare, then cut crosswise into juicy slices.
Tricks for Cooking a Tender, Juicy Marinated Flank Steak
If you follow a few simple steps, you’ll be rewarded with a wonderfully tender flank steak to enjoy – succulent slices of juicy meat, loaded with great flavour. You just need to:
- soak the steak in a zesty marinade, allowing the marinade time (12-24 hours) to work its magic on the long fibers of this lesser known cut of meat
- give it a quick sear on a hot grill (no more than 5 minutes per side for a large steak) or a sizzling cast iron pan on the stove top
- let the cooked meat rest properly (for 10 minutes)
- then slice it crosswise, holding your knife at a 45° angle rather than straight up and down, into thin slices of pink, juicy steak; tender and delicious
I made this steak (probably the third time this summer), after we returned from our mountain getaway. We were lucky to have a few days for a short trip to Jasper and Banff last week – our first time leaving our little corner of the world in the months since we’ve been stuck here self-isolating. It felt absolutely glorious! Scroll down past the recipe for a recap and photos of our trip to the Rocky Mountains.
Simple Steps to a Flavourful Grilled, Marinated Flank Steak
First, score the flank steak into a crosshatch pattern of deep cuts to give the marinade lots of surface area to flavour the meat. Find a container that the flank steak just fits into snugly, or put it into a heavy duty plastic zip-top bag.
Whip up the quick and easy, 5-ingredient marinade and pour it onto the steak. It takes, at most, 5 minutes to get this all done.
Cover the meat and let the marinade work its magic on the meat for at least 8 hours, but 24 hours is better.
Take the marinated flank steak out of the fridge to come to room temperature before grilling. Now pop it onto a hot grill (or a searin’ cast iron skillet on the stove). Watch those flames jump!
Turn it over and get a nice quick char on the other side, too. Then let the steak rest for 10 minutes to get all relaxed and juicy. See how those crosshatch cuts spread out and gave lots of extra surface area for smoky flavour to penetrate the meat?
While the steak is cooking, boil the marinade for 5 minutes to reduce it to a nice thick glaze.
Now carve the steak into thin slices across the grain (this is important with flank steak, to provide maximum tenderness to a cut which can be tough). This piece was so tender and juicy it almost fell apart as I cut it. Look at that beautiful pink colour and those meaty juices.
All you need to do is pile the slices on your plate, then drizzle them with a bit of that rich and zesty glaze. Take a bite of meat-lover’s heaven.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: A flank steak is a flavourful cut of meat, but it should only be cooked to rare or medium-rare, as it can become tough if cooked any more done than that.
If you prefer a spicier marinade, you can increase the sriracha to 2 tablespoons.
While the steak cooks, the marinade gets boiled down to make a zesty drizzle sauce for the cooked steak. Cooking the marinade makes it safe to eat, and takes advantage of all those umami meat juices that mingled in there while the steak was marinating. The marinade from beef is safe to eat as long as it’s been thoroughly cooked.
The zesty marinade is also great on pork, poultry, or lamb.
Grilled Marinated Flank Steak
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
- ¼ cup (60ml) tamari or soy sauce (gluten free)
- ¼ cup (60ml) balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sriracha, gochujang, or hot sauce
- 1 beef flank steak (1½ to 2 lbs/675 grams to 1 kg)
Finely grate the garlic on a microplane or put it through a garlic press. Add the rest of the marinade ingredients and stir them together to combine them.
Cut a diagonal crosshatch of slits into each side of the flank steak, about ¼-inch (.5cm) deep, and 1 inch to 1½ inches (2.5-4cm) apart. Put the flank steak into a container just large enough to hold it snugly, lying flat, or put it into a heavy duty zip-top plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the steak, and turn the meat several times to coat it with the marinade. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or squeeze out the air from the bag and seal it.
Allow the meat to marinate for 12 to 24 hours in the fridge. Remove the meat from the fridge and leave it out for ½ hour to come to room temperature before grilling.
Preheat the grill to high heat.
Remove the flank steak from the marinade and let the excess drip off (reserve the marinade), but don’t pat the meat dry as the oil is needed to keep it from burning on the grill.
Turn the grill down to medium heat. Grill the flank steak on medium for 3 to 5 minutes per side with the barbecue lid closed. The grill may flare up the first few seconds as some of the marinade drips down, but that will subside.
Grill the steak to your preferred doneness. The time will depend on the steak’s thickness and the heat of the grill. Do not cook it past medium-rare, as flank steak becomes tough if overcooked; it is much more tender and flavourful if cooked rare to medium rare. I have cooked a small flank steak (about 1¼ lbs) for 3 minutes per side and a large one (2lbs) for 5 minutes per side.
*Alternately, you can sear the marinated flank steak in a large, greased cast iron frying pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat, for about 5 to 7 minutes per side (it takes a little longer since you don’t have the heat you get in a covered barbecue grill).
You can use a thermometer to determine doneness: the interior should reach 120 to 125°F (49-52°C) for rare, or 130-140°F (54-60°C) for medium rare.
*Make the glaze: While the steak is grilling, pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan and bring it to a full boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook it uncovered for 5 minutes until it thickens to a glaze consistency. (If you accidentally cook it too long and it gets too thick, thin it out with a bit of water. Pour the glaze into a small jug to serve as a sauce with the meat.
Remove the grilled flank steak to a plate and cover it with tin foil or an inverted bowl or baking dish and leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes.
Slice the meat thinly across the grain, holding your knife at a 45° angle rather than straight up-and-down to make wider slices. Pass the cooked marinade glaze separately to drizzle over the meat, if desired.
Serves 4 to 6.
A Quick Recap of our Trip to the Rocky Mountains
We spent the first night in Jasper – just relaxed and enjoyed the sights of the town with the spectacular Rocky Mountains in the background. The next day we headed down the Icefields Parkway, a stunning 230 kilometre stretch of mountain-lined highway connecting Jasper and Banff National Parks. On the way we had a stop-and-stretch at the Columbia Icefield.
In Banff, we spent two nights at the spectacular Banff Springs Hotel – this was a rare treat, and it let me tick off one of the items on my bucket list. It’s been a dream of mine to stay at this stately old hotel, the ‘Castle’ of Banff, and we enjoyed every minute of luxury in this beautiful stone hotel set in the midst of mountain splendour.
We spent time by the heated outdoor pool, explored the town of Banff, took in a lazy river raft ride, and trekked on a guided nature hike through the surrounding forest.
In the evenings we had some great meals at the hotel – my favourite was the Schnitzel dinner in the Waldhaus, the mountain restaurant in the forest on the hotel’s grounds. The restaurant was closed due to Covid, but the Pub and Biergarten were open and our meal was excellent.
Then the Cinderella part of the holiday was over, but the adventure part was still ahead, and we headed west of Banff to Kootenay National Park in British Columbia to do a couple short hikes to the Paint Pots and Marble Canyon.
The Paint Pots are an area of unusual ochre beds with a few small colourful spring-fed pools at the top – a short, scenic walk through bright rust-coloured wetlands and uphill beside a trickling ochre creekbed to the pools.
Marble Canyon, just a few kilometres down the road, is a deep gorge cut into the rock by the swirling, tumbling waters of Tokumm Creek.
The path winds back and forth along the gorge, crisscrossed by seven bridges that afford breathtaking views – looking down into the depths of the the canyon or up at the mountain vistas around you.
After that wonderful day, we drove on to stay in a regular ol’ hotel in Canmore for the last night, but we still got to see some very spectacular sights anyway.
We had a lovely dinner at The Sensory (fantastic local ingredients and fantastic wines to go with them) then made a rushed trip to Moraine Lake before the sun set there. That was magical. Moraine Lake is near Lake Louise, and while Lake Louise was so busy with tourists we couldn’t get a parking spot, Moraine Lake is a lesser-known but equally jaw-dropping jewel. We climbed up to the top of the ‘Rock Pile’ and as twilight descended on the valley we had an unparalleled view of the deep turquoise lake with the encircling mountains reflected perfectly in its mirrored surface. There were only a few of us at the top, sitting in hushed wonder as we inhaled this magical scene.
The next day we made our slow way back home to Stony Plain, with a stop for dinner on the patio at the lovely little Hawk Tail Brewery in rural Rimbey, Alberta; we nibbled on a charcuterie platter and sipped flights of their artisanal beer while looking out on the ripening grain fields surrounding the brewery.
The trip was over all too soon; I unpacked, put a flank steak into my super simple marinade for dinner the next day, then sat down with a glass of wine to think back over our short, but wonderful mountain getaway.
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