Relatively lean and from a well-exercised part of the cow, flank steak is a pretty tough cut of meat. Remember, it’s all that fat on other cuts that keeps them nice and tender with nothing but salt and pepper. But flank steak needs to be marinated to help tenderize it.
Now, don’t just go grabbing any cut of flank steak. You want a well-butchered cut with a deep, even red hue. Since it’s a lean cut, you might be tempted to look for flanks with zero fat (isn’t that the point?), but you’d be wrong. You do need a little of that fat still attached. It should look smooth across the surface, not like someone tried to make sure it was really dead.
Often you can save a ton of money buying larger cuts when they’re on sale and cutting them into smaller, individual-size servings at home (or even asking the butcher to do it). After the steak is cooked, allow it to rest for five or 10 minutes, and then cut thin slices across the grain, which makes it easier to chew if there are any tougher bits left.
Place the meat in a shallow dish or large zip-top bag, and marinate it for about half a day. Either make sure the meat is fully submerged in the marinade, or turn it halfway through to make sure both sides get equal time in the liquid.
When you mix these recipes, set aside one-third of your mixture before adding the oil. You can let your freshly cooked steak rest in that mixture to soak up a little more flavor before serving. The following recipes make enough marinade for a 2-pound cut. Always discard marinade that comes into contact with raw meat after marinating.