How to Use Lower Price Cuts of Steak
Life would be amazing if we could always eat Filet Mignon steak but that’s just not in my family’s budget. Luckily, a cheaper cut of meat can be just as delicious with a bit of planning. Skirt and flank steaks are usually reasonably priced and often on great discounts. Unfortunately they can be tough and chewy. The solution? A good marinade.
I’ve found this marinated steak recipe to be the perfection solution. The basics of any marinade include fat, acid and seasonings.
Marinated Steak Needs Fat
The flavors from the seasoning need to be transferred into the meat and fat is how that happens. Fat will also help retain moisture when the steak is cooked. For this recipe I found extra virgin olive oil to work best but interestingly we also liked coconut milk as an option. But remember, all fats are not created equal (more here on that issue).
Marinated Steak Needs Acid
Acids help break down the connective tissue in meat . . . basically it naturally tenderizes the tougher steaks. The acid then also helps the flavors from the seasoning penetrate deeper into the meat. Plus, acid gives a freshness to the heaviness of steak as well as to the savory seasonings. Finally, since we are going to broil or grill the steak (high temperature cooking) the antioxidants in the acid help counteract the free radicals produced from the cooking method. Although vinegar worked well in this recipe, overall the zing from lemon was our favorite flavor.
There needs to be a balance in the ratio between fat and acid. So, in this marinade I added lemon zest to give more flavor without adding more acid. The essential oils in the zest have an exceptional amount of flavor but no additional acid.
Marinated Steak Needs Seasonings
Seasonings are the life of the marinade. The options are almost endless. You can use fresh or dried herbs, spices, garlic, shallots, etc. building a layer of flavors. In this recipe I liked to add some sort of picked pepper to add an additional layer of acid plus a more complex flavor. Don’t forget sea salt in a marinade. Salt magnifies the flavors and helps tenderize the steak.
Sometimes you’ll see a sugar component added to a marinade. This is fine if you’re using lower heat cooking methods, however with higher heat the sugar element will caramelize. This may add an extra depth of flavor or just burn and taste bad so I’m usually pretty cautious about adding any sugar to a marinade.
Marinated Steak Recipe
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 3 scallions
- 1 shallot, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 T pepperoncini, roughly chopped
- 2 roasted peppers, roughly chopped
- 2 ½ t. kosher sea salt
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ½ pounds flank or skirt steak
- Chop shallot and cloves. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes.
- Add all ingredients except oil and steak into a blender or food processor.
- Add olive oil and blend until the consistency of paste.
- Pat steak dry and place in a large bowl. Brush marinade mixture all over meat, on both sides, using all the marinade.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes but preferably overnight.
- Remove steak from marinade. You can leave some marinade on the steak but just a thin layer.
- Grill or broil meat over direct heat for 3-5 minutes per side or to desired doneness. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing against the grain; garnish with sliced scallions or chiffonade cut basil.
- Discard marinade.