Food enthusiasts will be quick to tell you that London broil is not a cut of beef, but a cooking method. Tough pieces of meat—commonly, flank or top round steak—are left to marinate overnight, are then broiled under high heat and served by thinly slicing the meat “across the grain.”
No one knows where the “London” comes from in the name since this is a decidedly American dish. But it has become such a popular cooking method that many butchers simply use the term “London broil” for flank steak since the method has become nearly synonymous with that cut of meat.
You can’t have London broil without marinating the meat first. Many cooks start the marinating process the night before so they don’t have to deal with it in the morning. There is probably no end to the kinds of marinades available and most home chefs have their own family recipe, but typical marinades start out with soy sauce, beer or Worcestershire sauce and combine those with vegetable oil and seasonings such as red wine or balsamic vinegar, fruit juice, hot sauce, fresh ginger and any other combination of herbs and spices. If you don’t want to fuss with creating your own, plenty of packaged marinades are available at the supermarket.
To marinate, poke a few holes in the meat and slide it into a self-sealing plastic bag. Pour the marinade inside. It helps to put the bag into a container, like an empty coffee can, to keep the liquid from spilling out before you seal it up. Swish the meat around in the marinade and place the bag on a plate in the fridge overnight. In the morning, turn it over again a few times to make sure all the meat is covered.
Now comes the easy part…broiling! Preheat the broiler and the pan for 10 minutes. Pull the steak out of the marinade and try to hold on to some of the liquid for basting or making sauce. Slide the broiler pan out of the oven and put the steak on the pan. Put the pan in the oven in the top rack slot. Your broiler pan should sit about four inches away from the flame.
London broil only needs four to five minutes of cooking time on each side. Set a timer to help you remember when to flip it. Overcooking renders this cut very tough no matter how long it marinates, so keep track of the time. An eight minute steak will cook to rare while 10 minutes gives you a medium rare steak. Pull the meat out of the oven and let it rest for at least five minutes before carving.
Cutting It Up
The final piece in preparing London broil is carving it. Just like wood, meat has fibers that runs through it, so when cooks talk about cutting across the grain, they are talking about cutting across those fibers. Look for the strands running left to right across the steak and cut vertically through them, making thin slices. If desired, take a cup of the marinade, simmer it in a saucepan while the meat is resting and drizzle it over the top of the steak before serving. Remember, don’t just use the marinade as-is since it held raw meat; cook it before you serve it.
I like to pair with steamed vegetables for a quick, healthy meal - like this London Broil Beef Brisket with Lemon Mayonnaise recipe
. How do you serve yours?