Steaks and burgers don't have to be your only go-to when the craving for beef hits. London broil offers the rich flavor of a steak without the high price. This cut of beef typically comes from a harder-working part of the animal than the more tender parts used for steaks such as rib-eyes. By grilling it quickly over high heat and slicing it against the grain, this otherwise chewy cut becomes a tender, flavorful main dish worthy of any enjoyable meal.
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London Broil Basics
The term London broil describes both a cooking method and a cut of meat. The original method involved quickly broiling flank steak -- the traditional cut, die-hards will tell you -- over high heat and slicing it thinly against the grain to render an otherwise tough cut of meat tender and juicy. Because each cow only has two flank steaks, as demand for London broil grew, the availability declined. Butchers began selling inexpensive, readily available round steaks -- typically top round -- as London broil. All cuts work well as long as you cook and slice the meat correctly.
Seasoning or Marinating
Although you can season London broil with dry rubs and seasonings such as garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, as recommended in the All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking, marinating this cut of meat can help infuse flavor while also lending extra tenderness. To marinate a 2-pound London broil, mix flavorful ingredients such as 1 cup of ketchup with 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of both steak sauce and vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of brown mustard, 1 teaspoon of hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Other possible marinade ingredients include shallots, garlic, soy sauce, fresh lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh or dried herbs such as thyme or oregano.
To maximize the tenderizing quality of the marinade, score the London broil by stabbing it with a paring knife held in the same direction, making roughly 1 cut per inch in rows spaced 1 inch apart. Turn the meat over and repeat the process, fashioning cuts with the knife perpendicular to those you made on the first side. This penetrates much of the connective tissues that can make the meat tough. It also helps the marinade infuse flavor more deeply. Add the meat to the marinade in a dish or resealable bag and let it marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
Prepping the Grill
Prepare the grill to cook the London broil over direct heat. Preheat a gas grill to 500 degrees Fahrenheit using the medium-high or high setting. Alternatively, if you're using a charcoal grill, add a 1-foot-by-1-foot bed of charcoals, or fuel a wood fire with a 1-foot-by-1-foot bed of wood that's approximately 3 inches deep. Clean and oil the grates of the grill, setting it on the lowest setting, if adjustable. If you're grilling the meat over a wood fire, set the grate 2 inches above the fire.
Grilling the Meat
If you've marinated the meat in the refrigerator, take it out while the grill is heating up. Remove it from the marinade and place the London broil on the hot grill. Cook the meat for approximately 8 to 10 minutes on each side until the internal temperature reaches 130 to 135 F for medium-rare. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking beef to a minimum of 145 F, cooking London broil to higher temperatures typically yields tougher meat.
Slicing Against the Grain
You can do everything else correctly, but if you slice a London broil the wrong way you end up with shoe leather. It's crucial to thinly slice the meat against the direction of the grain if the result is to be tender. If the London broil is any cut of beef other than a flank steak, hold the knife at a 45-degree angle to cut the slices at a diagonal for even more tenderness. For maximum tenderness of flank steak, however, Howard Hillman recommends in The New Kitchen Science that it be cut at a 90-degree angle against the grain to avoid ending up with more connective tissue and a tougher slice of beef.