Grilling Beef on a Budget

Grilling beef on a budget

Okay, so next week is “flank steak” week for your SimplySmartDinnerPlans and, as both price and availability of flank can vary wildly, depending on your location, we want to give you an economical “Plan B” just in case you’re having trouble finding it, or in taking a second mortgage to pay for it.

In my not-so-humble opinion, one of the great unsung cuts from the noble cow is the chuck roast. The chuck contains a lot of connective tissue, including collagen, which partially melts during cooking. Meat from the chuck is usually used for stewing, slow cooking, braising, or pot roasting. It is particularly popular for use as ground beef, due to its richness of flavor and balance of meat and fat.

More importantly, it’s cheap, it’s plentiful, and it eats like an old boot…unless you know a couple of tricks to make a moist, buttery, “mock flank” out of it.

Which I do.

The key to taming this muscle cut lies in two techniques:

1. A collagen-busting, vinegar-based marinade. (A pineapple juice marinade would work equally well.)

2. Taking as long as possible to bring the meat to 145 degrees.

I also like to use an herb/spice butter for serving, to help add moisture, and an instant-read thermometer, so I don’t (ever, ever, ever) have to cut into meat to check for doneness, which allows valuable juices to escape.

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Mock Flank Steak

Recipe adapted from MEAT FIRE GOOD, our Burnin’ Love BBQ cookbook. Original recipe “Doug’s Mock Tri-Tip” by Doug Fairrington

2 – 4 lbs chuck roast, cut 2″ thick
2 Tbs fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs celery salt
1 tsp oregano
1-2 cups of Italian, or vinaigrette dressing

Steak butter

1/4 lb unsalted butter
2 Tbs seasoned salt
1 Tbs fresh shallots, minced
1 Tbs smoked paprika
1/2 Tbs coarse black pepper

Marinade meat 8-10 hours in an oil and vinegar based Italian or vinaigrette dressing, remove from marinade, and blot dry.

Mix all spices and rub both sides of roast, then let stand at room temperature for 1 hour to air dry (preferably on a rack). You want that exterior DRY…that’s the key to that delicious brown, crusty exterior.

Warm butter and add seasoned salt, shallots, paprika, and pepper, blending well.

Cool slightly until spreadable. (You can put it in the fridge to cool, but be sure to stir it every few minutes.)

Heat one side of your grill to high, and the other to low, and lightly oil the cooking grate.

Place meat on hot side of the grill, fat side up, and grill five minutes per side.

Move roast to “cooler” side of the grill and turn off the hot side. You can place a drip pan under it to catch the drips which will make a great gravy later.

With the grill on low cook for about 1 hour or until it reaches your desired doneness (145F).

Remove roasts from grill, flip, smear with remaining steak-butter, tent loosely with foil, and allow to rest 15-20 minutes to before cutting in 1/8 ” slices across the grain.

Serve immediately.

Serves 8-16