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appreciator

First attempt at cooking beef

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Less than happy results.... so I thought I'd ask the wise folk at egullet for their opinions...

Recipe called for flank steak.... butcher talked me in to 3 slabs of organic top sirloin instead. Didn't know the difference so I cooked it the same as in the recipe.... 6 minutes per side under the broiler. Results.... tough as nails.... wtf?

Apparently..... I have a lot to learn.

Any tips for next time?

I'll try anything.... different meat, different timing, different technique, you name it... I just want that slab of beef to taste good..... is that too much to ask? :biggrin:


sarah

Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was. --Unknown

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You might be better cooking it on a heavy cast iron skillet istead of under the grill (broiler in US?). It's also really important to dry the steak on kitchen paper beforehand, and bring it to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before you cook. I'd also put the oil on the steak, rather than in the pan / skillet.

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Top sirloin isn't much of a steak. Better to braise it.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Recipe called for flank steak.... butcher talked me in to 3 slabs of organic top sirloin instead.  Didn't know the difference so I cooked it the same as in the recipe.... 6 minutes per side under the broiler.  Results....  tough as nails.... wtf?

Any tips for next time?

Unless you have a commercial oven with a high output broiler, most steaks will be much better pan broiled, as Tim suggests. The cast iron pan will transfer more heat, quickly, than a household range can extend downwards by radiant heat.

A steak house will broil at 1200F and bring it to you on a plate warmed to 500F.

Most home BBQ gas grills will work well on a steak, as the heat radiates and flows upward, but they don't have the massive BTU's of a commercial broiler. If you need more output, a simple kettle charcoal grill will suffice.

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I don't think it is the cooking method so much as the cut. Top sirloin can really vary in toughness based on whether it was cut closer to short loin (more tender) or the rump (tougher). If we're talking slabs, the bigger the steaks the more likely they came from the rump end. It would probably be a good idea to serve it sliced on the diagonal, very thin against the grain, as opposed to in one whole slab.

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I too had problems with cooking steak at home, but I also learned to use Tim Z's technique. I have one of those Le Creuset flat grills. I heat it to a pretty high temp on a medium flame, but not smoking. Sometimes I marinate the steak first. I oil the steak, (not the grill) salt and pepper. Dropping water on the grill determines for me if it's hot enough, when water bounces, it is. I place it on the grill and don't move it for several minutes. Flip. To desired doneness. The cut I have most success with is New York strip. It comes out very tender, even when medium well.


Emma Peel

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In addition to what has already been said: if a recipe I'm working from specifies a particular type and style of ingredient, and I'm massively unfamiliar with that ingredient, I would be loathe to let any salesperson "talk me into" buying something other than that ingredient unless I had received reliable advice from that salesperson before.

Having said that, developing a good relationship with a *trusted* butcher, who does prove to give reliable advice, is very helpful when you're not familiar with the product. That this butcher blithely persuaded you to buy another cut than flank steak, which has some unique qualities in terms of grain and such, doesn't sound all that promising.

Now, I've noticed there is some confusion out there regarding "london broil," a label sorta-traditionally associated with flank steak, but often stuck onto a number of other thick-slab cuts of meat, even though those other cuts don't necessarily behave anything like a flank steak. By any chance did the recipe you're working from call itself "London Broil," and did you share that info with the butcher?

Oh yeah--and what did your recipe say in terms of handling the steak, besides broiling it on either side for 6 minutes? Even if you had used flank steak, this could have still produced a really tough result, unless the recipe also told you to (a) tenderize or marinate the meat first, and/or (b) slice it in thin slices across the grain after broiling and resting.

Could you post your recipe in its entirety? That would help in diagnosing the problem.

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In addition to what has already been said: if a recipe I'm working from specifies a particular type and style of ingredient, and I'm massively unfamiliar with that ingredient, I would be loathe to let any salesperson "talk me into" buying something other than that ingredient unless I had received reliable advice from that salesperson before.

Having said that, developing a good relationship with a *trusted* butcher, who does prove to give reliable advice, is very helpful when you're not familiar with the product. That this butcher blithely persuaded you to buy another cut than flank steak, which has some unique qualities in terms of grain and such, doesn't sound all that promising.

Now, I've noticed there is some confusion out there regarding "london broil," a label sorta-traditionally associated with flank steak, but often stuck onto a number of other thick-slab cuts of meat, even though those other cuts don't necessarily behave anything like a flank steak. By any chance did the recipe you're working from call itself "London Broil," and did you share that info with the butcher?

Oh yeah--and what did your recipe say in terms of handling the steak, besides broiling it on either side for 6 minutes? Even if you had used flank steak, this could have still produced a really tough result, unless the recipe also told you to (a) tenderize or marinate the meat first, and/or (b) slice it in thin slices across the grain after broiling and resting.

Could you post your recipe in its entirety? That would help in diagnosing the problem.

He sold you the wrong cut of meat. Flank-steak has very specific things going for it in certain recipes. The grain runs lengthwise so it is best served very thinly sliced. Also makes the best Pastrami. :biggrin:


Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Speaking of butchers, I was going to buy a skirt steak, but was put off by it's color which was dark brown and he tried to insure me that it was better that it was the color of rotten meat (with grey things hanging off it.) I did not buy it, but he seemed so truthful. Was he right?


Emma Peel

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Speaking of butchers, I was going to buy a skirt steak, but was put off by it's color which was dark brown and he tried to insure me that it was better that it was the color of rotten meat (with grey things hanging off it.)  I did not buy it, but he seemed so truthful.  Was he right?

It just means the surface has been exposed to oxygen. No big.

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Make sure you get a discount though. I saved more money that way at my butcher. I remember Lamb breast at $.29 a pound cause nobody knew ho to cook them. And this was the early 1980's. Real butchers are so nice to have. :wub::wub:


Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Speaking of butchers, I was going to buy a skirt steak, but was put off by it's color which was dark brown and he tried to insure me that it was better that it was the color of rotten meat (with grey things hanging off it.)  I did not buy it, but he seemed so truthful.  Was he right?

just cleaned and trimmed 8 pounds of skirt that I opened the cryovac on, this past wednesday yeah it was grey with gnarley things hanging off it....damned tasty though

I get it wholesale 8 to 10 lb packs at restaurant supply .....2.29


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

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Well then, I guess I've found a good butcher! A man told me the place had the best skirt where I live, and he named really reputable places and said this place was better. It's funny how you can tell when someone seems to be telling the truth. But those grey gnarley things were disgusting looking! Thanks for the advice.


Emma Peel

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Skirt steak is also the meat that I like best for making teriyaki beef. I cut it into strips 3 to 4 inces wide, marinate in teriyaki sauce for an hour or so, then place right onto the barbecue grill, just using tongs to lift it out of the marinade. I immediately pour the marinade into a saucepan, bring it to a boil then cool and freeze it.

All you have to do is trim the gray fat off the meat before it goes into the marinade.

The skirt steak will shrink about 1/3 while cooking so figure on this when deciding how much to serve.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Heh everyone... just wanted to say thank you for your comments and suggestions. I will try cooking the next steak on the stove instead of in the oven and will also try to find a better butcher :blink::biggrin:

Miz Ducky, as you asked, here's a link to the recipe from the April issue of Cooking Light: Flank Steak w/ Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Glaze

I may try it again if I can get my hands on some flank steak, but think I'll try something else next.


sarah

Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was. --Unknown

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Sarah, the best place to buy your meet in the city is Windsor Meats on Main Street. The butcher's there have been doing it for a very very long time and they know what they are talking about. Top Sirloin is definitely not a cut you want to be using for a recipe like that. I think the best thing to do if you haven't cooked alot of steak, pick up a nice rib eye and sear it in a cast iron skillet then throw it under the broiler for a few minutes. It's the easiest to cook and the flavour and texture is much nicer.

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I definitely like to marinate flank steak a good while (like 24 hours) for London broil. Then, as said above, cut it across the grain in thin strips. It will still have some beefy texture, not soft like filet mignon, but that's its nature. I usually grill it since my oven broiler doesn't generate enough heat to sear.

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