A 4-ingredient marinade for an always tender flank steak

As the days get shorter and the evenings get especially chilly, my desire to cook outside on the grill tends to wane. Fall, for me, marks the start of the baking and braising season. Delicious steak, however, never goes out of season.

Grilling a well-marinated steak in a cast iron skillet makes for a pleasantly charred and surprisingly tender cut of beef, especially if you’re really leaning into some of the more comfortable, nuanced flavors of fall. My current flank steak marinade only requires four simple ingredients: chipotle chili powder, molasses, orange zest, and a bottle of Guinness draft beer.

Any dark ale would work here, but Guinness is a great choice due to its strong notes of coffee, malt, and cocoa. Beer doesn’t just enhance the flavor, it also helps tenderize what is usually a harder, cheaper cut of steak (i.e. the perfect weeknight).


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The profile is brightened by the zest of a whole orange, which highlights the robust sweetness of molasses and the deep, smoky spice of ground chipotle chili powder. The end result is a subtle nod to the layered flavors of Mexican moles.

Don’t forget to save the leftover orange for a quick citrus vinaigrette. The finished steak goes very well with a simple salad of avocado, bitter greens, pickled red onions and pumpkin seeds.

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Recipe: 4 Ingredient Flank Steak Marinade

For 3-4 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle (11.2 ounces) Guinness draft beer
  • The zest of an orange
  • 3 teaspoons of chipotle chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of molasses
  • 1 1 pound flank steak, generously salted

Instructions:

1. In a large bowl, combine Guinness, orange zest, chipotle chili powder and molasses. Mix until combined.

2. Pour the marinade into a bowl with a lid or a large resealable plastic bag, followed by the flank steak. Make sure the steak is completely covered with the marinade, then place it in the refrigerator. Let the steak marinate for at least 30 minutes (although overnight is best).

3. When you are ready to cook the steak, remove it from the marinade and place it in a greased cast iron skillet. Set your oven broiler to “high,” then place the pan in the oven. Cook 4 to 6 minutes; flip steak and grill for another 4 to 6 minutes.

5. The steak is done when the edges are charred and a little crispy. Cut against the grain and serve immediately.

Easier marinades for easy weekday dinners:

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