A Tale of Meeting New Meat and Clashing
A grocery store had this 3lbs. London broil half-off, so about 4 bucks. I bought two! I was so excited, I felt like the thriftiest shopper EVER.
I realized I had no idea how to cook one. This is what happens when someone who cooks a lot cooks something new — we get super excited at purchase then feel like a moron come cooking time. The label said “to marinate” in big marquee letters so I made up a marinade, placed it in a ZipLoc bag, squished out all air, and put it in the fridge with a Scarlett O’Hara air of “tomorrow is another day, I’ll deal with it then!” I maybe even fanned myself or made dinner napkins out of curtains. In my world that translated into: “I’ll just call Dad tomorrow and he’ll tell me how to do it.”
When the going gets tough in the kitchen, the tough call in the cavalry, which in my case is my father. Dad is an Irish Protestant Baltimorean lad who married a Cajun woman, so what was already a real love and curiosity for cooking pre-1967 was enhanced by traveling to St. Martinville, Louisiana in the fall of that year to meet and eat with her family where he prompted joined her, her parents, and four siblings in an event known in the family as “the day we all almost killed one another with boomerangs.” (My grandfather liked learning new things and once mastering them, sharing them. Who wouldn’t marry in after a near-death experience like that?)
This Australian boomerang is the exact one my mom still has. She also has slingshots hanging by the backdoor. I win a lot of “my mom is cooler” informal contests at bars.
Growing up, my father did almost all of the cooking for us with my mother acting as de facto sous chef, then joined by my siblings and me. They also kept a garden, partly out of love but greatly out of poverty. An early memory is being sent with kitchen shears to the garden to cut chives for potato salad. My first memory of domestic kitchen work is kneading bread when I was about 6. Around 7 or so I got to the stove the first time. Dad used to say, “Chefs get cut and burned. Expect it.”
Dad wanted us cooking because he loved it and it is a life necessity. He learned from his mother whose specialties were those deliciously ever-WASPy dishes like fish poached in vermouth. Then he learned from my maternal grandmother how to cook Cajun dishes. (“I had to keep your mother married to me somehow,” he likes to say.)
So when I called Dad a few days ago to ask about how to cook this sucker and, like any kid, expected a pat parental answer to be immediate I got, “Oh, my! I haven’t cooked one of those in a LONG time.”
“Dad,” I said, “I have no idea what I’m doing.”
“Well, did it suggest any instructions?”
“No, and I probably wouldn’t listen anyway.”
“Well, that’s true. Tell me — what kind is it?”
As I went to say, “London Broil, DUH!” I remember that the term actually means a way to cook it, not the cut itself. I had much to learn and retain.
“Lemme go look!” I said, running to the fridge like the beef would reanimate and run away. “It is ‘beef top round’.”
“Tell me, did it say if it was already tenderized?”
My heart sunk into my hungry guts. “No…..” If I meant to cook it in an hour or so and I didn’t tenderize it, am I screwed?
“Did you marinate it?” Dad asked.
Ah-ha! I finally win one! “YES. Yes, I did!”
From here we discussed broiling it but many directions said “8 inches from flame” and this broiler didn’t seem to make that mark. We chatted until he had to go cook his own dinner and said, “Call me tomorrow and I’ll have an answer.”
I hung up the phone and immediately tenderized that sucker like a 1970’s schlock horror film madman on a co-ed’s soon-to-be corpse. Did it with a fork and not something like this but by god, it was done!
The next day, without a phone call back to Dad and with the adventurous culinary spirit he taught me coupled with research (“I dunno, this article looks pretty okey-doke…”) here is how I did it:
London’s Broiling Recipe, by Kiss Me, I’m Cooking
Turn broiler on. Wait 10 minutes or until someone says, “I think my ankles are on fire.”
Place marinated and tenderized London broil onto hot broiler pan. DO NOT use a non-broiler pan as it is too hot in there for anything else.
After four minutes, open the broiler and baste the meat in the marinade and flip it over. Marinate BOTH sides.
In another four minutes take it out.
Let it rest 5-10 minutes, tenting it in aluminum foil (I just slapped a big mixing bowl over this sucker.)
Wait. This needs something…..
Irish eyes are smilin’, indeed!
Cut it across the grain and serve. I did with mashed potatoes. I didn’t make those, however, because I kinda suck at making them.
**All photos are untouched, nothing was plated, and I did not clean a damn thing before taking the photos — this is how it really looked
This method cooks the London broil to rare. If you want it done further look to another blog because this type of meat does NOT taste good cooked further than medium rare. Besides……
….with apologies to The Clash for this blog title.