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BY J.M. HIRSCH
AP Food Editor
You may be familiar with the steaks you buy repeatedly, but there's a whole world of great beef out there to explore. And many of those cuts are far more versatile than you think. The secret is to pick a cut you haven't prepared at home very much and start playing around with it. That's how I learned to love flank steak.
Flank steaks are lean cuts from the rear side of the cow characterized by rich, deep beefy flavor and a slightly chewy texture.
Flank steaks are easy to identify by sight because they are flat and have a long, horizontal grain that runs the length of the meat. These steaks are meant to be briefly grilled or broiled to rare or medium-rare, then thinly sliced across the grain. The result is deliciously beefy and substantial.
Flank steaks also love to be marinated. And because they have a heartier texture, they can handle more acidic marinades for longer, even overnight.
When shopping for flank steaks, note that some grocers will label them "London broil." Just note that they also sometimes label other cuts as "London broil," too. So when in doubt, it's best to ask.
For the weeknight home cook, flank steaks are the perfect cut. They can be tossed with a marinade the night before and left in the refrigerator until dinner. And they cook in just minutes on the grill or under the broiler. As with all meat, flank steak should rest for 5 to 10 minutes after cooking before slicing to let the juices redistribute.
Balsamic-Pepper Flank Steak with Grilled Pears and Blue Cheese
Start to finish: 30 minutes (plus marinating)
cup balsamic vinegar