Friday, June 5, 2009

Drunken Flank Steak

Recipe, photo, and commentary courtesy of Cook's Country

It's grilling season, so I wanted to share some great info from a great source. Cook's Country Test Kitchen explains a few techniques on how to make the perfect flank steak with great, bold flavor. One can change the this recipe easily to make killer fajitas meat. Use tequila for the liquor, substitute 2 tablespoons lime juice for the ginger, and sprinkle with fajita seasoning before grilling.


A popular preparation at some restaurants and with backyard barbecuers, the idea is to get steaks “drunk” in a potent marinade of bold ingredients—typically soy sauce, Worcestershire, garlic, and of course, liquor—before grilling. We tried several recipes, but the flavor was all over the place—some steaks were barely tipsy while others had us picking a designated driver. Was there a happy medium? Here’s what we discovered:

Test Kitchen Discoveries

  • Loose-grained steaks, like the flank steak in this recipe, are able to absorb more marinade, and thus more flavor, than tight-grained steaks. Scoring the surface of the meat with shallow slashes allows the marinade to penetrate into the steak without compromising the interior color or texture.
  • Strongly flavored liquors, such as dark rum and brandy, were heavy and overpowering in the marinade. Tasters preferred the cleaner flavors of light rum and tequila. The soy sauce in the marinade not only adds intense flavor, but also keeps meat moist during cooking due to its salt content.
  • The marinade’s sugar content (from the alcohol and the brown sugar) encourages a crust to form on the steak when it’s grilled. Patting the steak dry before cooking also facilitates the formation of the crust.
  • Since the flavor of the marinade is dulled a little during cooking, refresh the flavor by drizzling a bit of reserved marinade over the rested and sliced cooked steak just before serving.


Perfect Drunken Steak

Here are three important techniques to ensure boldly flavored steak every time.

1. Using a sharp knife, lightly score both sides of the steak at 1 1/2-inch intervals. This allows the marinade to flavor the meat more deeply.

2. The marinade’s sugar content (from the alcohol and the brown sugar) encourages a crust to form on the steak when it’s grilled.

3. Patting the steak dry before cooking further facilitates the formation of the crust.

Drunken Steak

Serves 4

Other thin steaks with a loose grain, such as skirt or steak tips, can be substituted for the flank steak. Avoid dark or spiced rum here—its intense flavor will overwhelm the steak. If using a gas grill, grill the steak covered for maximum heat output.

1 cup light rum
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove , minced
1 scallion , minced
1 flank steak (about 1 1/2 pounds), scored on both sides at 1 1/2-inch intervals

1. Whisk rum, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and garlic in bowl until sugar dissolves. Transfer 1/4 cup rum mixture to small bowl and stir in scallion; set aside. Place remaining marinade and steak in gallon-size zipper-lock bag. Press air out of bag, seal, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.

2. Remove steak from bag, pat dry with paper towels, and discard marinade. Grill steak over hot fire until well browned and cooked to desired doneness, 4 to 7 minutes per side.

3. Transfer steak to cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Slice thinly on bias and against grain. Drizzle with reserved rum mixture. Serve.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I just bought a tri-tip and will try the recipe soon. -Tien:)