Latin Flank Steak

I am going to begin this post by gloating.

This is seriously the BEST, most delicious steak recipe I’ve ever conjured up. I’m licking my chops just thinking about it. If there’s ever a recipe of mine that you must try, I have to tell you that this is it.

Now for a little history… I elected to go with a flank steak because they hold up so well to marinades.

And I know all about flank steak and marinades because when I was a broke college student, my roommate and I used to buy “Stank” all the time. That’s the nickname we had for flank steak. It was the only kind of steak we could afford. At first we would gnaw our way through the thin cuts of this beef. Then I read somewhere that you had to marinate flank steak because it is a muscular piece of meat, so acids would help break down that tough muscle to provide a succulent steak. So…we would marinate the steak in a can of cola overnight, and voila, we’d have tender and cheap stank! I mean flank steak.

Well I’ve moved on from cola, and this recipe is Latin deliciousness. The steak was incredibly tender and had strong citrus notes.

Before doing anything with the steak, slit 1/4″ criss cross slits on both sides of the steak. These slits should be just through the top layer of the meat. This allows the rub and the marinade to really penetrate deep into the steak, tenderizing and flavoring throughout.

Do you have a spice grinder? They are super handy when you need a lot of fresh cracked pepper. I would say that if I didn’t use this for anything else, it would be worth having just for pepper. If you don’t have one, please don’t kill yourself cracking 2 tablespoons of peppercorns…just use black pepper. But fresh pepper smells so yummy and it makes me feel happy, so I’ll be using fresh peppercorns.

The fresh pepper is combined with cumin and coriander, sugar and a bit of salt. I made a large batch of this because it’s a rub that is great for grilling. But you’ll see in the recipe that the quantity for this steak will not produce a big ol’ bowl of it like shown above.

 Just didn’t want you to worry when you make yours and it doesn’t look like much. You know, like when your husband puts together a shelf and there’s like a dozen screws still sitting on the ground. Like, that’s not supposed to happen…

Mmmmm, here comes my favorite part. Garlic! With a big handful of garlic (10 large cloves or 14 regular cloves) how could this be bad?

While you’re chopping up the garlic, put a pot on the stove over low heat with a cup of olive oil. By heating the oil, when you drop in the rest of these ingredients it will quickly infuse all of the oil with crazy good flavor.

I thought I would take a second to share with you how I work with garlic.

I separate the individual cloves on the cutting board. Then I place the flat portion of the blade of a knife over the clove and give it a good whack.

By lightly smashing the garlic, it makes it easier to remove the skin and much simpler to chop.

The skin will literally slip off the garlic. It really is that easy. My husband loves garlic, as soon as he smells me chopping garlic he’s in the kitchen wanting to know when dinner will be ready.

I cut each clove into smaller chunks, then make a big pile of garlic that I repeatedly run my knife through until it’s all the size I want. For this recipe the garlic should be minced very small.

Did you know if you leave jalapenos on the vine they will ripen to a pretty red color? Some would argue that they are not as flavorful if they are over-ripened, but I personally have found the flavor to be very similar and I enjoy the red color in dishes. So…red or green doesn’t make a difference to me, but for this recipe we’ll use 3 peppers.

Remove the seeds and membrane from the pepper since this is where the heat lives. I wanted the flavor of the pepper, not the heat. And honestly, even if you love heat, I don’t know if this is the right place to add it. The meat will marinate for several hours with this, if you keep the seeds I worry that it would be very hot and a bit bitter. So save the seeds for the leftover marinade that you can use as a sauce on the plate if you really love the heat.

Mince the jalapenos to tiny little pieces. You don’t want anyone to get a chunk of jalapeno with their steak!

Then just add the jalapenos to the garlic.

*Note: I have a skin allergy to all peppers. I have to wear rubber or plastic gloves when chopping peppers. If you’ve never worked with peppers before, invest in gloves for future use…or simply cover your hand with a plastic baggie so you won’t burn your skin. Most folks don’t have this issue, I just have uber-sensitive skin. But thought I’d share my little warning.

Now for my favorite… Cilantro. Mmmmmm.  Step one is removing the stems, just chop ’em right off and throw them away.

Okay, okay, I know that there are some of you who don’t care for cilantro. Don’t give up on this recipe yet. First, once the cilantro is cooked, its flavor changes drastically. I’ve heard friends say that cilantro tastes like soap. I can see that, when it’s fresh in salsa or something. But when it’s cooked, that flavor is very mild.

Still don’t believe me? Okay…I think mint would be great in this recipe. Or maybe parsley.

But I will be using delicious and fragrant cilantro. Running a knife through it a couple of times to chop the cilantro releases a beautiful perfume.

After chopping the herb should be about this size. Keep the herb separate from other ingredients.

Check on that oil you put on the stove. The oil should never boil, we’re just heating it up over low heat.

Finally, our last preparation step. Squeeze 6 large limes, and set aside.

Time to prepare our marinade. The oil should be warm, but NOT boiling. If it’s too hot, it will make a huge mess when you add ingredients. So please make sure that you only warm it over low heat.

Take the oil off of the heat. drop in a piece of garlic, it should sound like it’s frying, but it shouldn’t pop and sizzle too much. If the oil is too hot, let it cool for a minute. I was able to leave my oil on low heat for about 15 minutes and it was the perfect temperature.

Just pour in the garlic and jalapenos and let them cook for one minute to release all of the oils and flavor into the olive oil. Then add the lime juice, mixing well. Finally add the herb and blend well.

Allow the marinade to cool completely. Add salt to taste.

In a sealable plastic bag, place the steak and 3 tablespoons of the rub. Cover the meat completely with the rub. Then pour in a cup of the marinade, seal the bag and refrigerate 4-6 hours.

Reserve remaining marinade in fridge for later use. And trust me…I have a use for it!

Grill the steak to medium rare (roughly 5 minutes per side over medium heat).

After removing the steak from the grill, allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the steak, this keeps every bite juicy and tender.

Cut the steak against the grain on a diagonal to create these pretty little strips of steak. It’s a pretty presentation for this economical cut of steak which I served with creamy mashed potatoes.

Um, I obviously loved this.

And then, AND THEN… I had enough left over that last night I made this simply remarkable pasta. I boiled and drained cheese tortellini. Then added chopped up leftover steak, a cup of the marinade, a chopped tomato from the garden and a handful of mozzarella cheese. Warmed it all together and tossed on a few shavings of parmesan for good measure, and then I melted into this bowl of pasta. It was GOOD. My husband ate it again for lunch this afternoon.

I am really happy with how these dishes turned out. You know I wouldn’t lead you astray when it comes to food!


Latin Flank Steak

Printable version

Rub Ingredients:

2 tablespoons ground black pepper

2 tablespoons cumin

1 tablespoon coriander

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Marinade Ingredients:

1 cup olive oil

10 large (or 14 regular) garlic cloves, minced

3 jalapenos, seeded and minced

1/2 cup cilantro (or mint/parsley)

6 limes, juiced



1.5 pound flank steak, 1/4″ diagonal slits on both sides of meat



Mix all ingredients in bowl until well combined


Warm oil over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Do not allow the oil to boil, it should just be warmed through.

Remove oil from heat. Place garlic and jalapenos in warmed oil, allow to cook for 1 minute.

Stir in lime juice.

Mix in herbs.

Allow to cool completely.

Salt to taste.


Place steak in a plastic, sealable bag. Rub 3 tablespoons of rub mixture all over meat and massage all over.

Pour in 1 cup of marinade and seal bag (Keep remaining sauce in the fridge for later use).

Marinate in the fridge for 4-6 hours.

Remove steak and throw away marinade in the bag.

Grill steak over medium heat until medium rare. Allow meat to sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Slice against the grain on the diagonal, and serve with reserved marinade (reheat a bit of the marinade for service).


This entry was published on August 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm and is filed under In the Kitchen, Squawkings. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Latin Flank Steak

  1. Oh wow, that sounds so good. And I learned something new from you about marinading flank steak! I often buy cheap cuts and I’m going to remember that.

    I adore garlic! My husband teases me because sometimes he will smell like garlic (through his pores) and he tells me to lay off putting garlic in EVERYTHING I cook! 🙂

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