mom’s flank steak

When I think of comfort foods, my mind usually drifts towards creamy, warm foods: mac ‘n’ cheese, tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, pot roast. But one of the most comforting meals I’ve ever had was on a rainy night when I was in college, and involved, of all things, steak.

I had been through a rough week; final exams, a hectic work schedule, and had just broken up with my boyfriend. My parents, sensing that I was on the brink, invited me over for dinner and to spend the night in my old bed. I had never been so happy to go home.

I drove from my neighborhood to theirs in the pouring rain, my crappy windshield wipers in need of replacement and clouding the car into a blurry cocoon. I pulled into the driveway to the smell of the barbecue, a peculiar smell for a cold, wet December evening. Over red wine, my father’s Caesar salad and tender bites of my mother’s juicy medium-rare flank steak, I relayed the events of the week and cried my eyes out. That night, I curled up in the bed of my childhood and slept more soundly than I had in months.

My mother’s flank steak will always be a comfort food for me, and it has become a regular meal in our house. I’ll buy a pack of steaks when a good sale arises, marinate them and store in the freezer for whenever we feel like grilling. Her marinade is perfect: salty, the slightest bit sweet, chock-full of garlic and herbs, tangy with citrus. You must try it for yourself.

The ingredients are simple: soy sauce, vegetable oil (canola or olive oil work fine too), freshly ground pepper, garlic, lemon, garlic salt, and lots of fresh parsley.

Not only does the marinade tenderize the meat, but my mom doubles up and uses a meat tenderizer before placing the steak in the marinade. This insures that without a doubt, the steak will fall apart on your plate. We like the unseasoned variety, available for just a few dollars on the spice aisle.

Begin by chopping the parsley and mincing the garlic.

In a bowl stir together the soy sauce, parsley, minced garlic, garlic salt, oil, and pepper.

Squeeze in the lemon juice.

See that bracelet? Lucy got us matching ones for mother’s day. If I’m caught without it I face the wrath of a two year old.

After the meat has been tenderized, place it in a large Ziploc freezer bag and pour in the marinade. Squish it around to make sure the meat is evenly coated.

Marinate for at least 24 hours, and when you’re ready grill for 6-7 minutes per side over medium heat.

I like to throw some asparagus on the grill while I’m at it, lightly brushed with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper.

Let the steak rest under aluminum foil for 5 minutes before slicing. Eat. Savor. Repeat.

What’s your most memorable comforting meal?



Mom’s Flank Steak click here for the handy dandy printable

While you’re at it, marinate a few steaks and place in the freezer. Defrost whenever you feel like firing up the grill! Serves 3-4.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Marinade Time: at least 24 hours Cook Time: 14 minutes

  • 1 flank steak (1-1 1/2 lbs)
  • meat tenderizer
  • 1/3 c fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • several turns freshly ground pepper

1. Wet steak and sprinkle with meat tenderizer. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

2. Stir together parsley, garlic, oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic salt and pepper. Place steak and marinade in a large freezer bag. Refrigerate at least 24 hours* or up to 3 days, turning halfway through marination.

3. Preheat grill to medium. Grill steak for 6-7 minutes per side for medium-rare, longer for medium or medium-well. Let rest 5 minutes under aluminum foil before thinly slicing and serving.

*If freezing steak, let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 day first before placing in freezer.


beef with broccoli

On the rare night when we order Chinese takeout, we all want something different. Dave craves something spicy, green onion pancakes, and salt & pepper chicken. Lucy requests fried rice. And I prefer beef with broccoli, beef with broccoli, and beef with broccoli. Sadly, it’s a dish that’s hard for most restaurants to get right. The beef sometimes tastes “beefy” (not fresh), the broccoli is overcooked, and the sauce can be soupy.

Lucky for me though, it’s dang easy to make at home. It’s a quick, tasty weeknight meal with no takeout cartons necessary. And the secret to getting the beef fork-tender requires only a few ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

Start with a few dry ingredients in a large bowl: baking soda, a little bit of sugar, and some cornstarch.

Whisk in some soy sauce, water, and vegetable oil.

Slice your steak against the grain into thin strips. I like flank steak for this dish, but tri-tip or pretty much any cut would work just fine.

Toss the meat with the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. This easy marinade is all that it takes to get that crazy-tender beef, even with less expensive cuts.

Next, when you’re ready for dinner, make the sauce. It’s an easy blend of soy, brown sugar, minced garlic, a bit of flour, and cooking sherry (the sherry is optional; I think it rounds out the flavors nicely but if you don’t have any, no need to take a special trip to the grocery). Stir until the flour and sugar dissolve.

In a large saute pan or wok, heat some vegetable oil on high. When the oil is thoroughly heated (it will begin to shimmer), toss in the broccoli and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Don’t walk away! You’ll risk burning your veggies. Transfer to a plate or a heatproof bowl.

In the same pan, saute the beef with half of the sauce mixture for 3-4 minutes (keep stirring often!) or until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.

Add the broccoli and dump in the rest of the sauce. Saute for one more minute. Remove from heat.

Serve over rice. Swoon. Eat. Repeat.

I adore the thickness of the sauce. It coats every morsel with that salty, garlicky flavor. Just a little bit seeps onto the rice. Perfection.

Oh, broccoli. You are my favorite vegetable. And unlike that Chinese takeout joint, I didn’t overcook you into broccoli-shaped mush.

And beef. I could write a song about you. It would sound something like a fusion of Styx and Bad Company, with a little Earth, Wind & Fire thrown in for funk.

Don’t worry, world. I’ll spare you that one.


Beef with Broccoli     Printable PDF

This easy version of the Chinese takeout classic requires only a short marinade to make the beef fork-tender. Serve over white or brown rice. Serves 4.

Prep Time: 10 minutes + 1 hour for marinade Cook Time: 8 minutes

First, marinate the meat:

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs flank steak, sliced into thin strips

1. Whisk together the baking soda, sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, water, and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Toss the steak with the marinade to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, then proceed below.

  • 1/2 c low-sodium soy sauce (Do NOT use regular. The final product will be way too salty)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp sherry
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 heads broccoli, crowns only

1. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, flour and sherry until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a large wok or saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over high heat until shimmering. Add broccoli and saute 3 minutes, stirring often. Transfer broccoli to a plate.

3. Reduce heat to medium-high. Carefully add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the hot pan. Add the marinated meat and half of the sauce mixture and saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink. Stir in the broccoli and remaining sauce. Saute 1 minute more. Serve.