Saturday, November 04, 2006


U.H.requested directions for preparing the perfect oven-grilled London Broil.
Thanks to Cook's Illustrated, I've become an accomplished hand at this simple technique for turning an inexpensive piece of chewy muscle into a delicious entrée.
By the way, the term London broil refers to the method used to prepare an inexpensive piece of meat, not the cut. Choosing the right cut of beef is the first step toward success in this preparation.
The traditional cut for London broil is flank steak, but that's no longer an inexpensive cut of beef. After much trial and error, Mark Bittman, who developed this particular technique, determined that an excellent alternate choice is the shoulder cut. The shoulder (chuck) is a bit chewy, but its full beef flavor, low cost and the fact that it can be purchased in a nice thick cut, makes it a favorite for London broil.

A quick and easy, flavorful, no fuss - no muss meal

I watch the specials, and often find a lean, thick piece of beef, labeled shoulder roast or shoulder steak, at $2.79 - $2.99/lb. When cooking for one, even a two pound piece is a lot of meat. I usually cut the roast in half and freeze a portion for another time. One pound of meat is plenty for three meals for me. London broil served cold is great, sliced thinly accompanied by a horseradish/mustard dipping sauce and some rye bread with a side salad, you've another fast meal or use the thin slices of rare beef to top a dinner salad.

Oven grilling is my favorite method for cooking pork, chicken and steak. It's simply starting it on top of the stove, then transferring it to finish off in a very hot oven. The trick with London broil is to use high heat both on top of the stove and in the oven to achieve a uniform, crisp crust.

An oven-safe, heavy skillet, cast iron or stainless steel, works best. The oven should be preheated to 500° for at least 30 minutes with an oven rack placed in the lowest position. Here are the instructions, adapted from the May/June 1998 issue of Cook's Illustrated:

1 1/2 - 2 pounds boneless shoulder steak/roast about 1 1/2" thick, patted dry. Salt and pepper.

Heat a heavy ovenproof skillet for as least 3 minutes over high heat. Generously sprinkle both sides of the steak with salt and pepper and add to pan. As soon as the steak starts to smoke, about 5 seconds (little white wisps appear), carefully transfer pan to oven. Cook for 5 minutes then turn steak and cook until well seared and medium rare (125° - 130° on an instant-read thermometer). Another 5 - 8 minutes. Transfer steak to cutting board and let it rest for at least 5 minutes to allow juices to flow back into the meat.

Meanwhile, place skillet on medium high burner, be sure to keep a pot holder on the handle to remind you it is oven hot. Deglaze with 1/4 cup of chicken broth and 1/4 cup of whatever red wine you're having with dinner. Reduce to half, remove from heat and swirl in a teaspoon or two of butter, salt and pepper to taste. Slice meat very thinly across the grain, serve with wine reduction and any meat juice.

While you're at it, you might as well try the 'quickie baked potatoes'. Scrub one medium sized Idaho potato per person, and zap in the microwave for 5 minutes on high, then place on the top rack in the 500° oven when you put in the meat. The potatoes will be ready when the meat is done and taste as if they've been baked for an hour. Gloria Pépin, Jacques' wife, came up with this innovative idea. It works beautifully.

The grape tomatoes pictured above are washed, cut in half, doused in a little first cold pressed imported Italian olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of grated lemon zest with salt and pepper.

This is another of those delicious thirty minute meals to add to your repertoire.

Thanks to U.H. for asking - hope many of you try it and enjoy it!

Till next time . . . keep on cooking!

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