By Chef Judi Gallagher –
Steak on the grill is an American classic and when most of us buy a steak, we assume it’s going straight to the gas or charcoal grill. But, I know from years of cooking in my own restaurants and eating in other quality chef-owned establishments that grilling is just one option for cooking the perfect steak. There are no culinary rules that mandate all steaks have to be grilled for perfect flavor and texture.
In fact, some steaks taste much better if they never go near a grill. And sometimes grilling isn’t even an option, especially for condominium dwellers where a homeowner’s association doesn’t permit grills on the terraces. Or you’re in a vacation place with no grill. Or it’s just too cold outside to go fire up the grill on the snow-covered patio.
The clue to cooking the perfect London broil, is right in the title of this thick and dense cut of beef. If you cook it on the grill at a high temperature, you’ll burn the outside and dry out the meat before you ever get the inside to the right degree of doneness. You want to broil this meat.
Here’s what you do (and it’s what my grandmother did with her London broil too). Marinate the meat for at least three hours in the refrigerator. Then let the steak come to room temperature. Turn on the broiler and set the broiler pan at the second rung from the top. For a rare London broil cook for about three minutes on each side. You can also use a meat thermometer to test for the amount of doneness you prefer. Take the steak out of the oven, wrap it in aluminum foil and let it rest on the counter for 10 minutes. Slice in thin strips by slicing against the grain and serve. Even if you like your steak medium to well done, (which I never recommend) cooking a marinated London broil this way helps insure that your finished steak is tender, juicy and flavorful.
Use any marinade you like, including Asian which means you add a little soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and spices you mix up. And, if imagination fails you do what my mom always did, she used Wishbone Italian salad dressing as her go-to marinade.
A grill-alternative way to cooking a sirloin is to pan fry it in a little butter and then take the frying pan and put it into a hot oven to finish it off. You want to make sure that the meat is seasoned with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and moist (marinate if you like or brush with a bit of oil, garlic salt, whatever your preference) and that you’re using a frying pan that can go from burner to oven. Thinner cuts of steaks can quickly be pan-fried. Toss in some onion slices, mushrooms, butter, chopped garlic, salt and pepper and you’ve got one delicious steak coming your way.
Experiment with various cuts of steak, temperatures and marinades to get just the beef you want without ever opening the cover of your grill. Not that grilling isn’t wonderful, it’s just great there are plenty of options for getting your steak just the way you want it.
Korean-style marinated skirt steak
This is great seared, just be sure to oil the pan first so the meat doesn’t stick. Serves 4
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sake (optional)
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 scallions (white part only), minced
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
l pound skirt steak, trimmed and cut into 4 portions
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the sugar, soy sauce, sake, scallions, ginger, and sesame oil in a medium-size flat dish or zip-top bag, stirring to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Cover the steaks with plastic wrap and gently pound them to ¼ inch thick with the flat side of a meat mallet. Add them to the marinade and let them sit for 20 minutes, covered, turning them once after 10 minutes.
Coat a large skillet with the vegetable oil and set it over high heat until the oil is just barely smoking. Sprinkle both sides of the meat with salt and pepper, add the meat to the pan, lower the heat slightly, and sear the steaks (in batches if necessary) for 2 to 3 minutes on each side for medium rare. The steaks should be very rosy pink. Transfer them to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for 3 minutes. Cut into ¼-inch-thick slices and serve.
This classic pan-seared steak is legendary. Serves 2
As one might expect, every captain at “21” prepares Steak Diane slightly differently. They use varied amounts of the ingredients – more or less mustard, Worcestershire, or A-1 steak sauce, for example. The beef can be browned first then removed from the pan while the sauce is made. Or vice versa. No matter. As they do it – with drama and finesse – a large copper pan with brandy flaming and sauce bubbling, it is not only a great show, but very delicious. It will be a great show in your own kitchen or dining room, too.
1 16-ounce boneless shell steak (also called New York strip steak, short loin or sirloin strip)
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter (divided)
3 tablespoons finely minced shallot
6 tablespoons Cognac (or other good brandy) (divided)
2 tablespoons dry white wine or dry vermouth
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (preferably imported)
2 tablespoons A-1 steak sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely snipped chives
Trim all the outside fat off the steak. The steak should now weight about 12 ounces. Cut the steak in half horizontally, creating two 6-ounce steaks. Pound the steaks lightly to flatten them to 1/4-inch thick. Season them liberally on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a 12-inch skillet until a drop of water dances on the surface. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter. As soon as the foam subsides, add the seasoned meat. Cook on each side for 1 minute. Remove to a plate. Immediately adjust the heat under the pan to low. Add the second tablespoon of butter and the shallots. Sauté the shallots for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high. Add 3 tablespoons of the cognac and flambé, if desired. Add the white wine and with a wooden spoon scrape up any browning in the pan (deglaze the pan). Stir in the mustard and A-1 sauce. Cook for about a minute, or until the liquid is reduced to a syrup.