Come with me, and you'll be, in a wooorrrld of pure imagination!
Sit back and read on, as I show you how to create the best flank steak and bacon pinwheels ever! Have you ever been enjoying a realllly amazing steak and just thought "This could use more bacon..", well I have your solution within! They have tenderized flank steak and delicious bacon marbled throughout, yet it behaves as a solid cut of meat and needs no bracing with your typical skewer or twine using the science of meat glue!
p.s. to the haters that might think its "unnatural": Transglutaminase is present in most living things, animals and plants included. As a culinary enzyme it joins the ranks of other enzymes used throughout history such as papayas for tenderizing or rennet for cheesemaking. But if you are in fact saying that something new is inherently unnatural, that is a discussion for another day.
Step 1: Prepare Yourself.
Bill of Materials
- Transglutaminase GS (There are many kinds of Transglutaminase, I cover the use of GS in the Instructable, but RM should also suffice and I will attempt to note the differences)
- Flank Steak (~3 pounds)
- BACON! (as much as humanly possible! ... or the amount it takes to cover the pounded flank steak)
- High-Precision Kitchen Scale (0.1g resolution preferred)
- Meat Mallet (tenderizer of some sort)
- Cellophane Wrap (Vacuum Sealer is even better)
- Sauce brush
Prepare Transglutaminase GS Slurry
If you are using Transglutaminase GS like me, we can create the TG slurry that we will use in the next steps now. Transglutaminase GS is the only type of TG that must be made into a slurry and is usable over an entire day in that form. If you are using the RM variant, skip this step as you will be sprinkling it on later. Everyone else, create a basic slurry of TG to water at a 1:4 ratio. Since this was my first try, I used ~5g of TG and ~20g of water. This was more than I needed in the end, but didn't want to have insufficient glue! After testing your slurry, place it to the side until we need it in future steps!
TG degrades quickly when exposed to air (even in powered form) so it is important to test the viability of your TG enzymes before use, instead of finding out a day later when your items do not properly bind! Since the reaction that is catalyzed by TG that allows it to bond proteins releases a single ammonia molecule, the proper test of TG viability is attempting to detect that odor. Most chefs will apply the TG powder or slurry to a scrap piece of meat and giving it a smell after a few seconds. Being very careful not to inhale any TG powder, the meat should have a faint smell of wet dog or cardboard from the natural enzymatic reaction.
Step 2: Rolling With My Bacon
1. Pound That Meat!
We will begin by laying out our flank steak out on a large cutting board or butchers block for tenderizing. I recommend backing the board with a kitchen towel or padding to help absorb the violence that will ensue. Now pound out the flank steak (starting in the center working outward) with the meat mallet to at least half its original thickness, or thinner if you'd prefer!
2. Apply TG Slurry*
Using a sauce brush, brush on the Transglutaminase slurry liberally on the exposed side of the flank steak. Do not be shy as the TG will not effect flavor or texture in this context and worse still, we do not want an incomplete bond in the end.
3. Lay Bacon Everywhere
After the flank steak has been covered in the TG slurry, carefully lay your thick pieces of bacon in a regular fashion with the end goal of covering the entire surface in a single layer.
4. Mo' TG*
After laying the bacon, slather the new bacon layer with the TG slurry. This new layer of TG will hold the roll together as one so its important to get another thorough covering.
5. Roll It Up!
Carefully roll the flank steak tightly from one side, as if it were a sleeping bag or yoga mat (maximizing audience here :) This is going to be the slipperiest part of the whole process. Once you get the whole steak rolled up into a behemoth meat log, wrap it tightly in cellophane wrap or vacuum seal it to set overnight. Toss it in the fridge for 24 hours and meet me in the next step on the flip side!
*Note: If you are using TG type RM, you should sprinkle the TG powder uniformly and liberally in the step.
Step 3: Raising the Steaks
Wait at least 18-24 hours for the TG to set before removing the roulade from its container. If you have it vacuum sealed, you will need to remove it from that packaging. If the roulade is only in cellophane, you can easily unwrap it, or simply cut through the cellophane in this step.
Cut the long roulade into whatever steak thickness you prefer, I usually target about an inch thick. I was able to get 9 full steaks and some tasty end pieces from this large meat log you see pictured!
Storage & Sous Vide
Despite my emotional and spiritual will to eat all of these steaks in one sitting, I physically seceded that I could not. I therefore vacuum packed them individually for the freezer and so that they could also be easily dropped into the water bath for precision cooking in my next step!
Step 4: Into the Heat!
Cook Your Way™
We have now created the perfect bacon flank steak pinwheels and they can be treated as you would any other thick steak! The only difference is that due to the bacon marbling, the surrounding areas will be extra delicious and the fat will never fully render or get crispy, just fall apart buttery... hopefully.
Cook My Way™
For my first attempt, I went with my homemade sous vide water bath and cooked the steak to a perfect medium rare 145º. The steak comes out of the water bath withe edge-to-edge medium rareness glory, but a brownish-grey exterior that leaves something to be desired. After tossing the sous vide steaks onto a high temp preheated grill quickly to caramelize both sides, we are good to go!
Step 5: BaconSteak Retrospective - a Tasty Look Back.
Here is where I usually say "If I were to do this again.." but that seems disingenuous because I KNOW I will be doing this again :)
In my next iteration I will attempt to get the flank steak pounded even thinner, hopefully approaching the thickness of the dry-cured, thick cut bacon used. I might also consider letting the initial TG layer bonding bacon to flank steak to fully cure (over a day) before the second layer and rolling. I assume this would make the bacon layer less slippery in the rolling process and be more helpful in the thinner layers I would target.
I hope you enjoyed the Instructable and took away some knowledge needed to fuel your own meat creations! Please vote for this Instructable in the current Meat Contest!