Experiment: Lemon Marinated Flank Steak
For many years, I worked at the Regional Hospital in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and, despite the general reputation of awfulness for hospital food, the meals served at the staff cafeteria there were mostly pretty good. One item they did from time to time was a pan-fried flank steak that was cooked with, if not also marinated in, lemon juice. It was served under the rather spurious name ‘London Broil’ but was always nicely tender and delicious.
For those unfamiliar, a London Broil refers not to a particular cut of steak, although this mistake is often made, but rather to the fact that the cut, usually a tougher one like flank steak or top-round, is first marinated and then served in slices after grilling or broiling. The version served at the hospital in Fredericton failed to meet these criteria in a couple of ways… it was pan-fried and served in one piece… but it was definitely a flank steak, which is very fibrous and can often be very tough if not carefully prepared. Today, I am going to try and reproduce the general effect of the dish I enjoyed all those years ago…
- Flank Steak;
- ½ tsp. Salt;
- 1 tsp. Sugar;
- 1 tsp. Garlic puree;
- ¼ cup Lemon Juice;
- ¼ cup dry Sherry or Rice Wine;
- 1 tbsp. Capers;
- 2 tbsp. Butter;
First, use a toothpick or other sharp point and prick holes all over the surfaces of your steak, and then place it in a suitable dish. Next, mix together all the secondary ingredients except the capers and butter and pour this over the steak. Marinate in the fridge for 24 hours, turning several times and, for maximum marinade penetration, repeating the pricking operation each time.
To cook, heat a little oil in a pan over high heat and then fry the steak for a minute or two on both sides so that the surface browns nicely. Remove the steak to a heated platter and pour off the excess oil.
While the steak rests, make a sauce by putting a half-cup or so of the marinade into the pan and then reduce it over high heat. When it is frothing, add the butter and, when it has cooked down to a nice silky sauce, stir in the capers. To serve, slice the steak and pour over the pan-sauce.
This turned out very nicely and I ate several slices with a baked potato and some stir-fried zucchini and tomato. I don’t know how the hospital actually cooked their version, but my preparation was clearly different. The hospital steaks were thinner and were cooked all the way through without browning. I suspect they did not marinate their steaks but merely added lemon juice in the braising liquid. In any event, this experiment produced a result that was (almost) as tender and every bit as flavorful. I am tempted, however, to continue the experiment by using a slower cooking method… perhaps with a top-round cut.