Flank steak is a popular cut of beef for good reason – it’s flavorful, inexpensive and incredibly versatile.
Unfortunately I’ve had my share of tough ones over the years; the lean meat seems to overcook if you look at it the wrong way. Thankfully, this recipe for balsamic flank steak stuffed with prosciutto and cheese has renewed my faith in the often-too-tough meat.
I first had a variation of this recipe a few years ago when my father-in-law put a few stuffed flank steaks on the grill for an impromptu family gathering. The minute the tangy beef, salty prosciutto and melted cheese hit my tongue, I knew it was a keeper. I’ve played around with the marinade since then, but I always come back to this creamy balsamic dressing (the longer the soaking time the better).
While grilling this steak is great, a cast-iron skillet in the oven is the perfect tool for rainy days and spring weather. The pan gets smoking hot, allowing the meat to form a gorgeous brown crust with less risk of overcooking. (But don’t forget an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature of the meat, since this is one steak you don’t want to go past medium rare.)
The steak only gets better when made in advance. It can be marinated a day or two ahead, rolled and then refrigerated until ready to cook. The ingredients can be adjusted to what you have on hand. If you don’t have provolone, try Swiss or mozzarella. No spinach? Try basil or arugula.
Balsamic-Marinated Stuffed Flank Steak
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (2- to 3-pound) flank steak
3 ounces prosciutto
6 slices provolone cheese
1 cup spinach, basil or arugula
Kosher salt and pepper
Neutral cooking oil, such as canola
Combine balsamic vinegar, Dijon and garlic in a blender and puree until smooth. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil until thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the mixture to a plastic zip-top bag (or vacuum seal) and add the flank steak. Remove excess air and refrigerate, turning occasionally, for a minimum of 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Remove the flank steak from the marinade and pat dry, discarding the marinade. Arrange the steak on a clean work surface so the long edge runs perpendicular to you. Using a sharp knife and cutting parallel to your work surface, butterfly the steak in half lengthwise. Don’t cut all the way through; leave a 1/2- to 1/4-inch portion along the edge. Fold the meat open like a book, and gently flatten the seam to form a rectangle. Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the steak to 1/4 inch thick.
Arrange the meat on a work surface with the grain running north and south. (You want to roll the steak this way so that when it is cut, you slice it perpendicular to the grain.) Lightly season with salt and pepper. Lay the prosciutto slices in an even layer parallel to the grain, leaving a 1-inch space at the top edge. Next add the provolone, followed by the spinach.
Roll the steak away from you, keeping it as compact as possible. Tie the stuffed roll in regular intervals with kitchen twine and season the outside with salt and pepper. (The rolled flank steak can be refrigerated for up to two days.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add a few tablespoons oil to a large cast-iron or oven-proof skillet and heat on medium-high to high until smoking. Place the rolled flank steak on the pan and sear, turning occasionally, until deep golden brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer reads 125 degrees in the middle of the roll. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Snip the strings and cut steak into 1/2- to 3/4-inch slices.
Yield: 2 to 4 servings.