A culinary chameleon, flank steak is happy to take on the flavors of its marinade or rub. I love to give mine a long soak in a bold, garlicky marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. And because flank is a relatively inexpensive steak, I usually buy an extra one when I’m shopping for dinner, and throw them both on the grill at the same time. The first makes a great fast and easy meal with grilled vegetables, and the second yields hearty leftovers for later in the week.
One of the first things I learned when I started experimenting with the leftovers idea is that you don’t really want to cook the steak much longer than you already have, because it gets tough and chewy if overcooked. Instead, gently reheat it—as in the open-face sandwiches with herbed goat cheese and ripe tomatoes here—or serve it cold. It’s perfect in an arugula salad with white beans and shiitake (cold), and surprisingly delicious mixed with spinach, feta, and raisins and stuffed into hollowed-out red onions that get warmed in the oven (gently reheated). But the real secret is not overcooking the steak the first time out. Well, that and the big handful of garlic in my marinade.
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A standard flank steak is 1-1/2 to 2 lb. and will comfortably feed four. Here’s what you need to know when choosing one.
• Always opt for a steak with a cherry-red color and no discoloration. Flank is considered a lean cut, so don’t expect to see any marbling of fat running through it.
• Give the steak a gentle poke with your finger through the plastic wrap. A soft, mushy texture indicates a lack of freshness; you want it to be nice and firm.
• Avoid any package that has excess liquid in the tray, which is a sign that the meat has been sitting around for too long.
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