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A London broil is not, as is mistakenly believed, a single cut of beef. It can refer to any steak or section of a roast that is often pretty tough. To counteract the tougher nature of these cuts of meat, several cooking methods are applied to quickly cook the meat to no more than medium rare. The London broil is then sliced in thin slices across the grain of the meat, making it easier to chew. Despite the tougher beef sections, a well-prepared London broil can be an excellent way to serve meat, and flavor often makes up for the extra chewing you may need to do.
The typical London broil tended in the past to refer to flank steak, which was quickly broiled at high temperatures. This often confuses the modern cook, since many contemporary recipes suggest marinating the meat first, and then grilling it over high heat. Either method works well, though technically a grilled steak is not “broiled.” To further confuse would-be cooks, some people pan fry their London broils. Again, this method is workable, and each cooking method has its fans. What makes the dish popular, no matter how it is prepared, is that you can usually save a little bit of money on cost by buying a tougher section of beef, and the quick cook method means you can easily have the steak done in about 10-30 minutes.
The common marinate and grill method for London broils exhibits a great deal of variance. Some people merely coat the meat in a little bit of olive oil and spice of their choosing, allowing it to sit for an hour or two in the refrigerator. You can use virtually any marinade you like. Those with acids, like lemon juice or wine can help tenderize the steak slightly. However, it’s generally the cooking time and not the marinade that creates a well-prepared London broil.
Generally, you should be aiming for minimum cooking time, since rarer broils will be tenderer. You should also plan to only turn the steak once, giving it enough time to brown thoroughly on each side. Cooking times will vary according to the size of the steak, its thickness, and the amount of heat you use. If you want to save time, look for cuts of meat about 1-2 inches (2.54-5.08cm) thick at most. Thicker cuts take longer to cook and run more risk of being tough when they are overcooked.
Most chefs agree that you must allow your cooked London broil to rest for about 10 minutes prior to serving and slicing. This gives the meat time to internally cook a bit more, and it also allows the meat to reabsorb juices. Typical side accompaniments to this steak are baked potatoes, salad and crusty bread. You can get creative though and come up with a variety of sides. A London broil makes the perfect grilled meat for fajitas, or thin slices can be served over rice or polenta with a variety of sauces.
Flank steak is best prepared by adding dry spices for flavor and grilling it on high heat. Low heat will dry the meat out and make it tough, since the meat tends to be thin to start with.
Marinating flank steak takes many hours to really add any flavor to the steak. When steak is done, wait a bit before cutting, so that meat juices distribute themselves inside the meat and don't run out.
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