Boiling/braising flank steak
I realize flank steak is a cut that is traditionally cooked very quickly with high heat, cut against the grain, and served medium rare - I love it that way... but I want to try it in the "ropa vieja" style where it is boiled (usually in seasoned water), and then shredded and served along with rice or other accompaniments.
A few questions:
- when using the boiling/braising method, should this be a hard boil or steady simmer?
- using this method, can the meat be easily over-cooked? Or is using this method more forgiving as if I were braising pork shoulder?
- I've seen time-ranges around 1-2 hours, I'm guessing the indication I'm looking for is that the meat is tender/falling-apart, right?
I would do it at a very slow simmer; in fact I'd probably braise it in the oven, or even in a slow cooker. Not that I own a slow cooker, but it sounds as though it would work. A fast boil is neither hotter nor more effective than a slow simmer, 212 is 212 after all.
While it probably would not be 'easily' overcooked, I don't like to think of what a flank steak would resemble if boiled maniacally for hours:(
So I would slow simmer/braise for one hour to start, and then investigate the result. Likely you'll need at least another 1/2 hour or longer. Only you will know when it's done to your liking; as the connective tissue softens the steak will start to fall apart, how far you let it go is up to you. (I love cooking meat this way, but I've never done it with flank steak. It's intriguing.)
Are you braising with any added aromatics?
Hi SherBel, thanks for the reply - your comments are in-line with what I was thinking as well... especially regarding the oven, I was thinking of leaving it in there at about 210F.
As for the aromatics, yup... probably onion + garlic, bay-leaf, maybe a little cumin :-) I am Colombian, and some of the preparations call for using beer as the braising liquid :-)
You could think of flank as a very thin brisket, albeit one with considerably less fat. Go with a steady simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours and it should come out fine.