The holidays are upon us, and with them comes the traditional family dinner with all the fixings. If you feel like a change from the usual turkey and ham dinner this year, you might consider making London broil. Doing so requires a less expensive type of meat that can be turned into a memorable family feast.
London broil is the name of the preparation style for a beef entree usually made from a top round steak or flank steak. The meat is incredibly lean and tough and must be tenderized, often using a marinade, before cooking. It’s served in thin slices and boasts big and juicy flavors.
The exact origin of the London broil is unknown. Despite its name, it has no direct relation to the city in England. In the United States, the dish became known as the London broil in 1931 and is suspected to have come from Philadelphia.
This dish gained popularity in the ‘50s and ‘60s because it was a less pricey cut of meat that could be prepared easily with just a few key steps that involve marinating, broiling or grilling, and then slicing.
Cooking a London broil in the oven should only take eight to ten minutes maximum—eight minutes renders it more on the rare side while ten minutes leaves it more pink on the medium rare side.
Because the meat is already extremely tough, it’s recommended to watch the cooking time carefully because overcooking it can render it even more difficult to cut and chew, and the result you want is meat that sears on the outside but remains juicy on the inside.
Marinades for London broil
The meat choices for a London broil can be a little gamey, so you’ll want to neutralize the taste using ingredients with a higher acidity—recommended are lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Then add garlic, onions, and scallions for more flavor.
Marinating the meat for at least eight to twenty four hours is good, and will also help in the tenderizing process. You’ll want to seal the meat in a Ziploc bag with the marinade.
A separate glaze should also be set aside and used later while the meat is cooking to keep it moist and full of flavor. The glaze can consist of herbs like oregano and crushed basil, as well as olive oil. Or, you can rub cloves of garlic on the outside of the meat and season well with your favorite spice mix or just salt and pepper.
Though, really the ingredients in the marinade and rub are open to the interpretation of the chef. Just always remember to season the meat well, so you can achieve optimal levels of flavor. Here are the recommended steps:
- Poke holes in the meat and then put it into a plastic bag that you can seal
- Pour the prepared marinade into the bag and shake a few times to fully distribute over the meat
- Seal the bag and place in the fridge overnight
- In the morning, turn over and make sure that the marinade coats the meat entirely; then let it sit until you are ready to prepare it for dinner
Various options for cooking London broil
Because the thin cuts only need a short time to cook there are many options to choose from, and can be chosen based on convenience and the desired flavor profile. Note, the marinating process and time needed are the same for all of the different cooking methods. And, if the meat was frozen and thawed, let it reach room temperature before cooking or searing it.
Here are some general parameters for cooking London broil in the oven: For a rare cut, it should only take eight minutes. For a medium rare cut, it can take up to ten minutes. First preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and then sear the meat on the stovetop while the oven heats up.
To sear, put oil into a pan and coat the bottom. Then turn the knob for the burner to a setting for medium-high heat. Place the meat in the pan and cook on each side for two minutes. After searing, place into the oven to finish the cooking process. Just pay close attention to the temperature and the time.
Grilling is another option. Fire up your indoor or outdoor barbecue between 325 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, allow the meat to cook around nine to ten minutes on each side. Once finished, it should have a temperature of between 125 and 130 degrees for a medium rare presentation.
Broiling is the fastest method of cooking the meat, only taking up four to five minutes on each side. But first preheat the broiler for ten minutes before putting the meat in to cook. The temperature setting should be on high and the meat should be placed on the top rack closest to the broiler.
London broil made in a slow cooker is a good option because the low heat and longer cooking time can actually work to tenderize the meat further. Add the flank or round top steak along with the marinade, spices, and add any vegetables like potatoes and carrots to the pot. Then, pour beef broth over the contents, set the temperature on low, cover, and walk away. Slow cooking on low for eight hours is recommended when using this method.
For a more adventurous approach to making London broil, with a woodsy taste, the smoker is another cooking process that can be utilized. Preheat the smoker to between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and then add the wood. Cover and let the meat cook for thirty minutes per pound. The internal temperature should reach around 145 degrees Fahrenheit. After the half-hour is up, remove the meat from the smoker and tent it with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest ideally for up to twenty minutes, but at the very least five to ten minutes.
Cut and serve your London broil
Always let the meat sit before slicing into it, or you will lose all of the flavor and juice that was infused during the long marinating process. When it’s ready to be served, cut across the grain—look for the strands that run left to right across the meat and cut through them vertically—and aim for thin slices.
If you have any excess marinade, simmer it on the oven to warm it up and pour on top of the cuts of meat. One important note: Never use the same marinade that was exposed to raw meat as the cooked meat could become contaminated.
Optional side dish recommendations
Making a London broil is an easy task and an incredibly delicious meal when cooked properly. But it doesn’t stop there. For the perfect full feast at the holidays, or any time of the year, choose some of these popular sides to prepare, too.
Parmesan cheese, garlic, and broccoli all combine for the perfect side dish as the vegetable’s woody stems become tender, the tops get crispy, and any bitterness will take on a smoky and salty flavor. Even the pickiest eaters that normally aren’t fans of broccoli will probably change their minds after trying this recipe, which has the perfect texture and taste.
There’s always the standard green bean casserole you can put out for the holidays, but why not try something new? In this salad, fresh-steamed green beans are cooked until crisp and tender and then tossed with a nutty walnut oil vinaigrette, creamy ricotta cheese, and toasted hazelnuts for a dish that not only tastes delicious, but looks beautiful, too.
Talk about presentation. This gorgeous side dish uses sweet potatoes in place of regular white potatoes for a pop of bright orange color and extra vitamins. They’re baked twice with seasonings like sage and nutmeg, and then topped with a dollop of créme fraiche sweetened with some maple syrup. You might want to make extras to prepare for everyone asking for seconds.
Add a pop of color to everyone’s plates with this tri-colored quinoa salad. The grain provides some crunch while dried cranberries provide sweetness, fresh zucchini adds crisp flavor, and warm spices like cinnamon and cumin round out the delicious, wholesome dish.