I’m not an expert at preparing the perfect steak like my husband Dave is, who gets them just right every time. But there are a couple cuts of steak that I feel pretty confident getting right and flank steak is one of them. Flank steak is a lean, flavorful cut of beef (bonus!) and it’s also one of those cuts of meat that’s no good if cooked to well-done, as in ruined. Well actually any lean cut will become tough when overcooked, so keep your flank steaks on the side of medium-rare to medium. And since flank steak shouldn’t be cooked very long, it’s perfect for weeknights or just when you don’t want to spend a lot of time over the stove or grill during your summer dinner parties. Flank Steak with Espresso Rub and Green Chile Pesto is something I’ve been wanting to try and share ever since my daughter Jackie got excited about rubbing instant espresso on meat and told me how the juices taste like a delicious, deep flavored “gravy”.
All you really need for this recipe is your food processor and a nonstick skillet or a hot grill. AND… only 30 minutes of your time!
First let’s back off the steak for a minute and make the Green Chile Pesto. This quick condiment, is a cross between pesto and chimichurri with just a few ingredients. It’s bright with flavors and can also be used for other dishes like burritos or scrambled eggs, and it makes hash browns taste amazing.
Anaheim or poblano peppers, a handful of cilantro, pine nuts, Cotija cheese, crushed red pepper flakes go into the food processor…
…add a bit of extra-virgin olive oil and in under a minute you have a perfect, complex, thick sauce for topping the steak. Plus the color is beautiful. It goes great with the earthy seasonings about to go on the steak.
After you make the pesto, put it in the fridge while you cook your steak. Besides espresso powder (instant), I mixed chili powder, sea salt, granulated garlic (garlic powder works, but the granulated is top-notch in flavor), crushed* dried oregano and crushed black pepper.
*To crush your dried oregano, either give it a few churns in a mortar and pestle or crush it with the back of a spoon.
Before rubbing the seasonings on the steak, cut some shallow diagonal lines in the meat to help get the rub down into the meat. Then sprinkle both sides of the steak and rub it in with your fingers. Heat a large nonstick skillet (cast iron is great) to medium-high heat, drizzled with some oil. Place the steak in and turn heat to medium and then, turn it only once halfway through the total cook time for a total of 12 to 16 minutes, depending on if you want it medium-rare or medium. Oh yes, so another great tool to have would be an instant-read thermometer. Must-have for cooking meat, fish or poultry.
After the flank steak has reached it’s desired temperature, let it rest for at least five minutes. Here I’ve just barely taken it off the heat. It doesn’t look very pretty yet because all the juiciness is still in and on the steak, THE reason that letting the steak rest is an excellent idea. The espresso mixture gets pretty dark as it cooks. No worries, lots of flavor in there.
So after the steak has rested, slice it against the grain of the meat and see how tender and juicy it is. Top the steak with the pesto or serve it on the side. Be sure to sop up the delicious espresso and chili powder “gravy”. The chili powder does not create heat in the rub as the espresso powder does a great job of toning it down. The Green Chile Pesto adds a balance of bright green mild heat that compliments the rub.
In just 30 minutes you have the perfect steak for six to eight people, depending on appetites. The thin strip cuts would also make an excellent star-ingredient to a beef fajita bar or top the strips with a fried egg for one perfect steak and eggs breakfast or dinner. Family and guests will think you spent a lot of time marinating the meat and will think you are an expert at getting a cut of steak to come out just right. Our little secret. 😉
- 2 medium Anaheim or poblan chile peppers, cut in half lengthwise, stems, seeds, and membrane removed
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup crumbled Cotija cheese
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste (about ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper)
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½-pound cut of beef flank steak (give or take)
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
- Make the Green Chile Pesto First: Coarsely chop the peppers and place in a food processor. Add the ½ cup cilantro leaves, ¼ cup Cotija cheese, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, 2 cloves garlic, and ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper.
- Process in the food processor until finely chopped. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Then with processor running, add ⅓ cup oil in a steady stream through feed tube to form a coarse paste.
- Pour pesto in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed. This pesto can be made up to a day in advance of serving.
- For the Flank Steak: Trim fat from steak. Score both sides of the steak in a diamond pattern by making very shallow diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals.
- In a bowl combine all the seasonings- 2 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. espresso powder, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. oregano, ½ tsp. black pepper. Sprinkle mixture over both sides of steak; rubbing in with fingers.
- Coat an extra-large nonstick skillet with the oil; heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add steak; reduce heat to medium.
- Cook 12 to 14 minutes for medium rare (145F degrees) or 14 to 16 minutes for medium (160F degrees), turning once.
- Thinly slice the steak across the grain. Serve with the Green Chile Pesto. If desired, sprinkl with cilantro.
Adapted from the cookbook BHG Skillet Meals.