by Kate Heyhoe
During the summer months especially, when grilling is at its peak, supermarkets offer London Broil on sale. But what are you really getting?
The term "London Broil" can be a bit mysterious. Most cookbooks consider it to be flank steak, but markets usually use a piece of "bottom round" and label it as London Broil. This makes a big difference to the consumer, because the round is considerably tougher than the flank, thereby requiring a cooking method that will break down and tenderize the meat fibers, such as marinating. On the other hand, the bottom round is much less expensive than the flank, but as they say, you get what you pay for.
Which is exactly how the bottom round came to be called "London Broil." After World War II, outdoor barbecuing became all the rage, and Americans had a particular affection for London Broil. The demand was greater than the availability, causing the price of flank steak to skyrocket. So butchers began labelling the more abundant round steak as London Broil, selling it at a lesser price than the real thing. This was indeed a misnomer, but nonetheless, the public welcomed the cheaper cut and endured its overall lesser quality. Thus, the practice of peddling round steak as London Broil ingrained itself into American markets.
I'm not dissin' London Broil, aka: round steak—the meat can be quite tasty when prepared properly. But "properly" is the operative word here. Follow these tips when preparing round steak that is marketed as London Broil:
In her excellent book Marinades: The Secret of Great Grilling (Harper Perennial), Melanie Barnard offers the recipe below which I find perfect for London Broil—it's tangy, tart and full of flavor
Makes about 1 cup; enough to marinate
1 to 1-1/2 pounds of beefsteak or lamb chops
cut about 1 inch thick
This is a classic seasoning mix in Argentina, where beef is king. Sherry wine vinegar has a rich depth that needs very little oil to offset the acid. Flat-leaf parsley, when really fresh from the garden or the market, has a wonderful, peppery flavor. Lavishly garnish the finished steaks with more parsley.
1/2 cup sherry wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
2 teaspoons dried oregano
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Place meat in a single layer in a glass or ceramic dish. Add marinade, turning food to coat. Cover and refrigerate, turning occasionally, 1 to 3 hours for lamb chops and 2 to 4 hours for beefsteak.
Marinades: The Secret of Great Grilling
by Melanie Barnard
Harper Perennial, $10
Recipe reprinted by permission
This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified January 2007
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