How to Cook Flank Steak

Written by M. Dee Dubroff

Whether you purchase meat from a local butcher or from online steak outlets, steak is generally considered quite expensive. Flank steak is a flavorful, less fattening and less expensive cut of meat than other steaks. Learn how to cook flank steak to take advantage of a budget-conscious cut of meat. London Broil is a popular steak entrée, made by grilling or broiling marinated flank steak and serving the steak sliced against the grain into thin, tender strips.

Cut from the belly muscle of the steer, flank steak is one of the most affordable steaks on the market. Flank steak, when tenderized with a marinade of spices, acid (tomato or lemon-based ingredients) and oil before it is cooked, can be as tender as other steaks, like loin and rib cuts. Flank steaks make wonderful gourmet food gifts. Accompany the gift with instructions on how to cook flank steak and include recipes for various flank steak marinades.

Some things to know about how to cook a flank steak

1. What to look for in a flank steak

Buy flank steak that has a clear red color and is firm to the touch. Fresh, raw beef is purplish-red, but when exposed to oxygen it becomes cherry-red. Vacuum-packed flank steak should have a purplish color. Vacuum-packed flank steak should also be cold with packaging free of punctures or tears.

2. Storing the steak before use
Flank steak should be stored in its original packaging in the coldest part of the refrigerator. When refrigerated, steak will keep for 3 to 4 days. Flank steak can be frozen in its original packaging for up to 2 weeks. If you plan to freeze flank steak for a longer period, it is best to wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil or freezer bags.
3. Preparing the flank steak and marinade

Marinating flank steak before cooking produces meat that is the tenderest. Place the flank steak in an acid-resistant container, like a glass baking dish, add marinade (1/4 to 1/2 cup for each 1 to 2 lbs. of meat), and shake vigorously to ensure that the marinade touches all surfaces of the meat. Cover and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Baste the flank steak with the marinade while the steak is cooking. Marinade can be heated and used as a sauce. Marinade that has come into contact with raw meat cannot be consumed unless it has been thoroughly heated.

4. Avoid overcooking flank steak

Although overcooking all cuts of steak should be avoided, overcooking can be a disaster when learning how to cook flank steak.  Lean cuts of steak, like flank steak, will become tough when overcooked. To avoid toughness when oven-cooking, place the marinated flank steak on a broiling pan 2 to 3 inches from the heat source. With the oven door open, broil 6 to 7 minutes on each side for medium rare flank steak, or 9 minutes on each side for medium. To grill flank steak, place meat directly over the heat source and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 17 to 21 minutes, turning once during cooking.

5. Stuffing and baking a flank steak

When learning how to cook flank steak, research recipes for stuffed flank steak, which makes an impressive presentation. Stuffing recipes for flank steak often include roasted peppers, spinach, tomatoes, cheese, seasoning and olive oil. Prepare the stuffing mixture following the recipe. Lay the flank steak flat on a work surface. Spread the stuffing over the surface of the steak and then roll the flank steak like a jellyroll. Tie the rolled flank steak every 2 inches with cotton string. Place in a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool slightly. Slice diagonally along the grain.

Cooking flank steak requires special techniques and preparation to avoid toughness. Flank steak can be a gourmet delight if cooked correctly.