Flank Steak Roulade

February 3, 2007 on 11:25 am | By | In Recipes, Techniques | Comments Off on Flank Steak Roulade

Stuffed flank steak

I have an interesting relationship with cookbooks. I’m drawn to those that feature stunning pictures and mouth-watering recipes, but as a chef I challenge myself to craft my own creations. As my skills improve, I’m less inclined to purchase a “cookbook” than a book that features techniques. My favorite culinary game is to pick an ingredient (typically one I happen to have in the fridge), turn to “Culinary Artistry” and come up with a unique recipe.

However, when I was devising my goals for 2007, I decided I should give my neglected cookbooks another chance (I have about 50). My first experiment was from Madhur Jaffrey’s “World Vegetarian” for Malaysian Curried Pineapple (I had purchased the book four years ago when I signed on a vegetarian client. I no longer cook for them). As always, I added my signature to the dish and included tofu for some protein. It was okay, but not stellar (hence no blog entry).

My next target was “Tom’s Big Dinners” by Tom Douglas, a local restaurateur. I’ve prepared several recipes from both this cookbook and his first, “Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen,” with great results. I had a bunch of flank steak in my freezer, so I was intrigued by his Olive-stuffed Flank Steak with Tomato Confit — more for the technique than the actual recipe. When I prepare flank steak, a relatively tough cut of meat, I either briefly grill it or stuff and braise it for 1 1/2-2 hours. Tom’s recipe called for searing the steak then roasting it at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes; interesting!

I fully intended to follow the recipe verbatim and then post a review, but reality has a funny way of intervening. I nixed the tomato confit from the get-go since no amount of slow roasting would coax any flavor out of winter tomatoes. The recipe calls for Kalamatas, but amazingly I had none. Normally I’d just head to the store, but my 8-mile run sapped my energy. I perused the contents of my fridge and found a jar of jalapeño-stuffed olives (not the double-stuffed ones; those are saved for my martinis). Inspired, I decided to veer completely from the recipe and concoct my own, stuffing the steak with the olives, cilantro, Cougar Gold cheese and pine nuts and serving it with Herdez salsa. Yum!

If stuffing flank steak, you’ll want to pound it out to about 1/4″ thickness, if possible. I’ve found it’s easier if you first use a Jaccard on the steak before pounding it out (be sure to use the flat side of your pounder; the toothed side will tear the steak up too much). The steak will gain about an inch in length and width.

Unpounded flank

Pounded FlankJaccardPounderCover the steak with your fillings (you’ll want approximately 1 to 1 1/2 cups of filling for one steak), leaving about 1/2″ at the top (the filling will move as you roll). Start with the long side of the steak facing you and roll away. You’ll end up with a long, skinny roll. Why is this preferable, you ask? Well, when you go to slice the steak you’ll be slicing against the grain. If you roll it up with the short side facing you, when you slice it it will be with the grain, resulting in long, chewy strings of meat rather than tender slices.

To tie, you can either cut several short pieces of string, but I prefer to use one long one. Tie it at one end, leaving a couple of inches sticking out. Bring the string under the steak and loop it around on the other side. Pull taut. Continue down the length of the steak, then flip it over. Loop the string around each band and then tie it off at the end.

First tieTie 2Tie 3

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add your oil and heat until almost smoking (to ensure your steak doesn’t stick, it’s important you heat your pan without any oil in at first. This will open up the pores in the pan, so when you do add your oil, it will fill the pores and help keep the steak from sticking).

Seared FlankSear the steak on all sides until brown. Place the skillet and steak in the preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers between 120 and 130 degrees. Rest the steak for at least 5 minutes before slicing (this allows the juices to redistribute into the meat). Remove the string and cut the steak across the grain into 1/2″ to 3/4″ slices.

Southwestern Flank Steak Roulade
4 servings

(Measurements are approximate!)

1 flank steak (about 1 – 1 1/2 pounds)
Chipotle Tabasco, to taste
1/3 cup Cougar Gold cheese (or your favorite white cheddar), crumbled
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup toasted pinenuts
1/3 cup chopped jalapeño-stuffed olives
Salt and pepper, to taste
Salsa, for serving

Stuffed flank steakRub the steak with the Tabasco and sprinkle with salt and pepper (I used Tony Chachere’s). Mix stuffing ingredients together and spread over steak. Follow directions above and serve steak with salsa.

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