When I think back to my childhood, I can still recall the scents and sizzle of mom's cooking — bolognese, stuffed shells, flank steak… As I grew up, my summers have always been studded with two things: 1. Dave Matthews Band concerts. 2. Grilling with friends in random parking lots sprinkled across America (see #1). The staple at most of those tailgates? Flank steak, a welcome reprise of my childhood memories. It's affordable, filling, and most importantly, if you're tending grill but get sidetracked in a beer-infused conversation with an old friend, completely forgiving.
So you can imagine my thrill when Fiona Bohane, the head chef for Dave Matthews Band and co-conspirator for Dave's Dreaming Tree Wines, reached out with her tips for executing the perfect flank steak, along with the band's favorite recipe for it.
The most common flank steak faux pas happens long before you set foot behind the grill: the marinade. "Your marinade should balance flavors and not overpower. With this recipe, the soy sauce and Worcestershire work together with the garlic to make the steak savory and sweet," says Bohane. So if your go-to marinade recipes uses a bunch of, say, cola or honey, be sure to offset with paprika, dijon mustard, or even balsamic. And there's no need to marinate your steak overnight. "Steak only needs to be marinated for a few hours. Cuts like flank (and hanger and skirt) are thin cuts that have a larger surface area to absorb the marinade," says Bohane.
When it's time to grill, make sure the grate is piping hot (especially if you're using a portable grill under a breezy tailgating tent). Lastly, you're gonna wanna pat down your meat with a paper towel right before you throw it on to remove any excess marinade or hunks of garlic. ("Spots of garlic can burn and the oil in the marinade can cause flare-ups," Bohane warns.)
As Matthews himself says of the dish: "My favorite two sides with Fiona’s flank steak are the flank steak and the flank steak. She is magical.” Try washing it down with a
glass bottle of Dreaming Tree Cab Sauv, and we dare you to disagree.
Garlic Marinated Grilled Flank Steak with Fresh Herb and Olive Tapenade
- 1 whole flank steak, about 3 lbs
- 6 cloves garlic, mince
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup Worcestershire
- 1 tsp fresh black pepper
- 3/4 cup black pitted kalamata olives, chopped
- 1 1/2 cup, loosely packed, mix of fresh herbs, basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, rough chop
- 1 bunch scallion, sliced
- 1/2 large white onion, small dice
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To make the marinade, whisk together ingredients in a bowl, transfer to appropriately sized, non-reactive container. Add steak and refrigerate for one to four hours, turning meat once. (Fiona recommends using a sealed container like a double-bagged zipper storage bag with air removed, to ensure that as much of the meat makes contact with the marinade as possible, so the steak can maximize flavor absorption.)
- While meat marinates, make the tapenade. Mix all ingredients. Let flavors blend for at least 20 minutes. Prepare and heat grill. Remove steak from marinade. Using a paper towel, wipe excess marinade from meat.
- Grill meat over medium-high heat for about four minutes per side until meat is nicely charred for a medium-rare. Let meat rest for 5–10 minutes. Slice the meat across the grain, diagonally, in about 1-1/2 inch slices. Transfer meat to platter and drizzle tapenade over the steak and serve.