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Food Network Favorites: Marinated Flank Steak with BLT-Smashed Potatoes

Another test from the Rachael Ray chapter in Food Network Favorites . It definitely took longer than 30 minutes to cook this one, and while the marinade for the steak is delicious, the potatoes are merely okay. And the instructions for the recipe are baffling.

I had a similar problem with Ray's recipe for Cod with Burst Grape Tomatoes, Parsley-Mint Pesto Broth & Roast Fingerling Potato Crisps with Herbs. In that one, the sequence seemed out of order; the way that the recipe was written did not seem to me to be the most efficient way to produce the dish. In this steak recipe, the sequence is backwards, meaning that if you follow the instructions the way they're written in the book, your steak will be cooked long before your potatoes are tender.

Ray's original recipe has the cook make the marinade and start the meat marinating first. Then you get the potatoes started. This is problematic, because a big pot of water with 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes in it is going to take several minutes to come up to a boil. My potatoes boiled after about 15 minutes. Then they require another 15 minutes of cooking time. Ray's recipe says that the potatoes will be tender in 12 to 15 minutes, but your potatoes may take longer than that to get tender enough to smash. The potatoes should be the very first thing you get started. Before the marinade, or anything else, you've got to get them cooking.

I also don't like the way Ray puts unrelated instructions together. She'll tell you to heat the grill pan in one sentence, and then move on to the way to prepare the leeks in the very next sentence. Since these instructions are given in numerical blocks, it seems to me to be an attempt to reduce the apparent number of steps, even though it would be more logical to separate the pan preheating instructions from the leek preparation instructions. At any rate, I've reordered and reorganized the instructions for clarity in the recipe below.

The marinade is fantastic and the flank steak is delicious. The original recipe's cooking times are a bit too long: 6 to 7 minutes per side is likely to give you steak that's medium or medium-well. Check the flank steak after about 4 minutes per side, for medium-rare. One trick that I've learned to use with flank steak is to score it crosswise across its surface before marinating. This helps to tenderize the meat. I've added this suggestion to the recipe.

The potatoes were fine, if not terribly exciting. They definitely need the sour cream topping, since by themselves they are pretty lean.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

2 1/2 pounds small red skin new potatoes
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
1 Tbsp grill seasoning (such as Montreal Steak seasoning)
1 tsp smoked paprika, ground chipotle or pasilla chili powder, or ground cumin
2 tsp hot sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 pounds flank steak
1 leek, tough top trimmed
4 slices thick-cut smoky bacon (such as applewood smoked bacon), chopped
1 3/4 cups chicken broth, heated
1 vine-ripe tomato, seeded and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream, to pass at the table

Cut larger potatoes in half, leaving very small potatoes whole. Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until very tender, about 15 to 25 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.

Mix the garlic, steak seasoning, smoked paprika (or chili powder or cumin), hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil. Score the meat on each side in a crosshatch pattern, to tenderize and help the marinade flavor the meat. Place the meat in a shallow dish and coat evenly with the marinade. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to high heat. Grill flank steak about 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove from the grill and let stand for about 10 minutes before slicing.

While steak is cooking, finish the potatoes: Cut the leek in half lengthwise and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Put leeks into a big bowl of water and swish them around to get all the grit out. Lift the leeks out and drain in a colander. Put a drizzle of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon for about 5 minutes, until it begins to crisp and has rendered most of its fat. Add leeks and cook about 5 minutes more, until leeks are tender.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the hot pan. Smash the potatoes with the chicken broth. Stir in the bacon, leeks, and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the flank steak thinly against the grain, on an angle. Place a dollop of sour cream atop the smashed potatoes and serve with the sliced steak.



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