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The Feast of Unleavened Bread : BACK TO BASICS : Flanks for the Memory

April 04, 1993|JOAN DRAKE

Flank steak, which comes from the underside of a steer, has a firmer texture and more robust flavor than steaks cut from the animal's rib and loin sections. When scored and marinated, Prime or Choice flank steak may be broiled or grilled, but braising is the preferred method of cooking this lean cut of beef.

Not a thick cut to begin with, flank steak is normally butterflied, making it half its original depth and quite flexible. This makes it ideal for rolling around a stuffing.

Begin by placing the meat on a large cutting board with one of the short ends closest to you. Keeping the knife parallel to the work surface, hold the meat flat with one hand and start slicing the steak in half horizontally from either of the long sides.

Lift the upper layer of meat as you work (Step 1) and carefully continue to cut through the steak, stopping about a half-inch short of the opposite side. Leaving this hinge allows the meat to open like a book or the wings of a butterfly (Step 2).

Any type of meat, vegetable or bread stuffing may be spread in an even layer over the steak (Step 3), to within an inch of the edges. Fold in the sides of the meat (Step 4), then roll up from the longest side, encasing the stuffing.

To keep the roll from falling apart during roasting, tie kitchen twine lengthwise around the meat, then crosswise at two-inch intervals (Step 5).

The term braise means to cook food in a covered pan with liquid. Meats are typically browned first at a high temperature, then the liquid is added and the heat reduced. Slow simmering breaks down the connective tissues and tenderizes the meat.

In the following stuffed flank steak recipe, the initial high oven temperature browns the meat and releases fat from the chorizo in the stuffing. This needs to be siphoned or poured off frequently to keep it from smoking.

During the remainder of the roasting period, baste the roll occasionally with the mixture of beef broth and wine. Allow a few minutes for the juices to set, then slice the stuffed flank steak diagonally (Step 6) and serve with the braising liquids.

Note: If you make the following recipe for Passover or if you keep kosher, you should obviously choose the beef sausage instead of the pork.

STUFFED FLANK STEAK

3/4 pound beef or pork chorizo sausage

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped green onions

6 mushrooms, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 (1- to 1 1/2-pound) flank steak

Salt

Oil

1 cup beef broth

1/2 cup red wine

Chopped cilantro

Crumble sausage into bowl. Add celery, parsley, green onions, mushrooms and garlic, mixing well. Set aside.

Butterfly flank steak. Open flat and season lightly to taste with salt.

Spread sausage mixture over steak to within 1 inch of edges. Fold in sides, then roll up meat, enclosing stuffing.

Tie kitchen twine lengthwise around rolled meat. Make crosswise ties at 2-inch intervals down length of roll. Rub roll with oil.

Place rolled meat in roasting pan and roast at 425 degrees 35 to 40 minutes, until browned. Siphon or pour off drippings 2 to 3 times during cooking.

Pour off any remaining drippings, add beef broth and wine to pan, cover and reduce heat to 350 degrees. Continue roasting meat 45 minutes or until tender, basting occasionally with pan liquids.

Remove pan from oven. Transfer meat to carving board, cover with foil and allow to stand 10 minutes. Remove as much fat as possible from basting liquid.

Cut away twine from meat. Slice roll diagonally and sprinkle with cilantro to taste. Serve with basting liquid. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about: 451 calories; 1128 mg sodium; 89 mg cholesterol; 30 grams fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 35 grams protein; 0.27 grams fiber.

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