Recipe Of The Day: Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

When summer rolls around, so too do the backyard barbecues. But nothing is more disappointing than sifting your way through a picnic table full of coleslaws, potato salads, burgers and hot dogs just to find that the golden ticket isn't on the menu: steak.

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It's no secret that steak can be expensive, especially when cooking for a crowd. But you don't need a New York strip or filet mignon to make your guests happy. Flank steak will get the job done without breaking the bank. 

If you're not familiar with flank steak, it's the cut of steak that sits just below the cow's abdominal muscles. Because of its placement, flank steak is very lean and it can have a reputation for being chewy. But that's people just don't know know how to cook it correctly. When treated just right, flank steak is just as good — if not better — as any other piece of beef.

While a good strip steak only needs salt, pepper and garlic, don't skip the marinade here. It's the key to cooking budget-friendly steaks. The marinade for this recipe is made with red wine vinegar, chipotle peppers, garlic and brown sugar. The dynamic combination has it all flavor-wise, ranging from sweet to spicy to smoky to acidic. Beyond that, the acid in the red wine vinegar helps to break down the fibers of the meat, causing the meat to be extra tender and delicious.

Once the flank steak is done marinating, it's time to put it on the grill. Because flank steak is so thin, you need to be very precise when cooking it. A few extra seconds on the grill can be the difference between cooking it just right and over-cooking it. This recipe recommends that you grill the steak for three and a half minutes on both sides, but use a meat thermometer to ensure the flank steak is cooked to temperature. 

When your steak is cooked to your desired doneness, transfer it to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving it. When it's done you can serve it in tacos, burrito bowls or on some of these incredible summer salads

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

This recipe originally appeared in The Chicago Tribune.


For the flank steak:

  • Chipotle marinade, see recipe below
  • 3 3/4 pounds flank steaks
  • 2 cups wood chips, preferably hickory
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper

For the Chipotle marinade:

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


For the flank steak:

Step 1: Pour the marinade over 3 3/4 pounds flank steak in a shallow nonreactive dish. Cover and let stand at room temperature, turning them once or twice, 2 hours.

Step 2: Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for high heat. Wrap 2 cups wood chips partly in foil, creating a small packet that is open at the top. Set the packet on the hot coals or hot lava stones; position the grill rack about 6 inches above the heat source.

Step 3: When the wood chips are smoking heavily, place the steaks on the rack. Cover; grill, 3 1/2 minutes. Turn steaks; grill, 3 1/2 minutes. Rake the coals to one side of the grill, or on a gas grill, lower the heat to medium, and continue to grill the steaks, 6 minutes for medium-rare.

Step 4: Transfer steaks to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let stand 10 minutes. Carve the steaks at a slight angle across the grain into very thin slices; serve hot, warm or cold with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Chipotle marinade:

Step 1: In a blender, combine 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, 2 garlic cloves, chopped, and 1 teaspoon packed dark brown sugar; process until fairly smooth.

Step 2: With the motor running, add 1/2 cup olive oil; the marinade will thicken slightly.