There are steak lovers who extol the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of a lean filet mignon. Others adore devouring the charred fat of a properly marbled strip steak.
Flank steak has less fervent admirers.
A lean cut from the muscular abdomen of the cow, it requires some active chewing. But what flank steak lacks in softness, it makes up for with a deeply mineral brawniness that can stand up to the spiciest, tangiest, most pungent marinades. It's the cut to cook when you want as much beefy character as possible and are willing to chomp a little to get there.
The great thing about a flank steak is that you can marinate it in pretty much anything that tastes good, and the meat will soak those flavors right up. I've used everything from leftover salad dressings to the last bits of salsa, and it always comes out fine. Be bold in your seasonings; a flank steak can take it.
Here, I balance tangy, funky Worcestershire sauce with herbs, garlic and jalapeño, rounded out with a bit of brown or coconut palm sugar to help the meat caramelize.
Then I use those same flavors, along with lemon zest for brightness, in a compound butter that's sliced on top of the steak. As it softens, the butter mingles with the steak juices, melting into a rich, creamy puddle. To augment the sauce, I char a few ripe tomatoes until their skins blister. Chopped up with basil and scallions, they add sweetness and brightness to the buttery, meaty mix.
If you have time to marinate your steak the day before, you should. It gives the meat the most time to absorb all the seasonings. But even a couple of hours makes a huge difference.
Then heat your grill or broiler as hot as it can go. I like cooking flank steak until it's seared and mahogany brown on the surface but still ruby-hued and rare inside. Medium-rare is good, too, but don't be tempted to push it any more or the beef will dry out. (Well-done fans should consider another, more forgiving cut.)
Served thinly sliced and topped with charred tomatoes and sweet and pungent Worcestershire butter, it's as satisfying a meal as any steak lover could want.
Grilled Flank Steak With Worcestershire Butter
Yield: 6 servings
Total time: 45 minutes, plus marinating
For the steak:
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves, finely grated or mashed to a paste
1 jalapeño, minced
2 tablespoons minced chives, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
3 ripe plum tomatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
Handful of torn fresh basil, plus more for serving
For the Worcestershire butter:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced chives
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, grated or mashed to a paste
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Season steak all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a bowl or resealable bag, combine thyme, garlic, jalapeño, chives, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and lemon juice. Add meat, and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Prepare the Worcestershire butter: In a bowl, mash together the butter, thyme, chives, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
Spoon the butter onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, form into a log and wrap well. Chill for at least 2 hours before using.
Light the grill or heat the broiler, arranging the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Grill tomatoes, or broil them on a rimmed baking pan, turning them, until charred on all sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board to cool.
Brush off any pieces of marinade clinging to the steak, pat steak dry and coat it lightly with oil. Grill or broil steak until it reaches desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare (125 degrees).
Transfer steak to a cutting board. Slice butter into coins, and place them on the steak to melt slightly. Let steak rest for 5 minutes while you prepare the tomatoes.
Roughly chop tomatoes, and place in a bowl with scallions, basil, a pinch of salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Toss well, adding more salt or lemon juice, or both, to taste.
Slice the steak thinly, across the grain, and serve with the charred tomato mixture spooned on top. Garnish with more chives and torn basil, if you like.