“He’d grown a beard since I last saw him. I asked, ‘what’s with that?’ He said it was the caveman look.” Jane Marshall


Flank on the coals

So this past week, no sauce, no pretty flowery presentation, and no fancy preparation, just meat and fire! Ok, there were vegetables and salad, and there was dessert but the steak hit the coals and flavour transcended words. I was always scared to try this technique, an underlying fear of destroying good meat and burning food. That’s my one issue when cooking. I hate burning things. I associate it with not paying attention to what you’re doing.

I’ve never seen it done, I’ve never tasted it, and I’ve never attempted it, until now! The internet is a great learning tool and guide for trying new things but just a guide.  So here we go! Caveman steak!

I love flank steak. It’s flavourful, cheap, and one can feed four or more if you carve it right. It takes the profile of anything you want to introduce it to and it’s not fancy. It’s steak!

The only thing I seasoned my flank with was salt. Since it was going direct on the coals anything else would burn off immediately bringing a bitter and distaste to the flavour. I wanted the meat and juice to shine through not charred bits of garlic or a sauce. Kosher salt rubbed into the flesh and then left to sit a room temperature for an hour. Salt inhibits bacterial growth so an hour on a cooling tray so the air could circulate around it wasn’t a bad thing. That’s it!

Everything else I did was prepared ahead of time. This takes in total about 20 minutes till carve time so I the sweet potatoes were roasting, the salad was prepped but not dressed, and the asparagus was washed and ready for grill time. But this is about the steak!

Good hardwood charcoal, not briquettes, glowing red hot and spread out evenly. Here’s the hard part, put the steak on the coals!  You’re not going to ruin it! Trust me!  Depending on the thickness of you cut you’re going to be looking at about 5 minutes a side. When you flip, some coals will be attached, brush them off. You’re working closer and over direct heat so wear a glove, use long tongs and pay attention. This is hot! When cooked to your liking,(I’m a rare to medium rare guy), take off the coals leaving any ash that you can behind and wrap immediately in tin foil. Let it rest (wrapped) on a cooling tray. A flat surface will dislodge more juices; a cooling rack will offer less surface tension and keep more juices in the steak. It’s a gravity thing!

Since you have everything else your serving ready, carving will be your last step. I’d carve in front of everyone and astound them. Carve against the grain so the flank pulls apart. Take the juices that have escaped into the foil and pour them over the meaty offering.

The flavour of the hardwood will come through the meat that’s why you’re using good hardwood. Any residual ash will combine with the juices and create a wonderful dripping. The outside will have char and the inside will be juicy!

The next time I do this will probably be with a rib eye or  a different cut just to see but I know that it will work.

Go caveman! Embrace your inner Neanderthal!

Be well and eat well

Scott Tait


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