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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!

STAND BACK, I'M GOING TO SCIENCE!

Transglutaminase ("TG") is a naturally occurring enzyme known by the less appetizing nickname "meat glue" due to its ability to bond proteins. It is recognized as safe for human consumption and denatures quickly when any cooking heat is applied, however inhaling TG in its powered form should be avoided. It is used commercially in the production of imitation crab meat, chicken nuggets, fish balls, and other meat products. More recently it has been adopted by the "modernist cuisine" movement as a means to create flavors, textures, and dishes that were never before possible!

Learning Resources:
Wiki - Transglutaminase


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

  1. 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)
  2. Flank Steak (~3 pounds)
  3. BACON! (as much as humanly possible! ... or the amount it takes to cover the pounded flank steak)

Tools

  1. High-Precision Kitchen Scale (0.1g resolution preferred)
  2. Meat Mallet (tenderizer of some sort)
  3. Cellophane Wrap (Vacuum Sealer is even better)
  4. 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!


Testing Transglutaminase

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

Pulling Out
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 Steaks
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!

<p>Made it for Memorial Day picnic - really great! Even better tonight as a leftover!</p>
I can't wait to try this!<br><br>One idea the might help in your goal to get thinner flank steak is to butterfly cut it first. Basically you cut half way through the thickness and then carefully turn the knife parallel to the cutting board and cut outwards in each direction, to just before the edge. If done carefully you can unfold the 2 flaps outwards. <br><br>
<p>Great suggestion on the butterfly! I will definitely give that a try on the second round since I obviously overestimated the factor by which I could thin the meat through my sheer brute force alone :)</p>
I think you made a mistake in the ingredients. You said as much bacon as needed to cover the steak, and I think it's really meant to be as much bacon as can possibly get
<p>+1</p>
<p>Thank you for catching the mistake! I have corrected this error to read &quot;as much bacon as humanly possible&quot; :)</p>
<p>Whoa. That's some tasty science.</p>
<p>my family loves bacon and steak</p>
<p>It looks tasty and all, but isn't that glue unhealthy? I mean you could use toothpicks to hold everything in place.</p>
<p>Nope, if you check my note in the first step, Transglutaminase is naturally occurring in many places and its bonding reaction is well documented and understood. The saturated fat poses more of a long-term health risk than the TG, but its a tasty risk most of us bacon lovers have considered.</p><p>On a related note, toothpicks will never produce the same result due to different meats cooking, shrinking and connective tissue behaving differently. Since they are bound as a single cut of meat with TG, whatever warping the meat undergoes is collective and it behaves as if it was a solid steak.</p>
I can't wait to try these! Looking at the picture reminds me of campfire cooking what we called burgers in armor. I would add some onions, toss in carrots, potatoes, maybe some cilantro or jalape&ntilde;os...and other seasonings. Wrap it all tightly with heavy duty foil. Throw it, and some corn on the cob, on the campfire. Probably about 10 minutes each side (of course your mileage may vary here), I believe that would make a great meal! With little cleanup to boot! And so much better than hamburger meat. Thanks!
<p>Looks good, I will have to try this.</p><p>Also, I'm interested in your Sous-vide controller... could you show us how you made it ? It looks like you made that with your slow cooker, I would be interested in building this for myself :)</p>
<p>Absolutely! It is actually a project I modified from Adafruit's great guide linked below. I simply used a slow cooker instead of rice cooker, and attempted to tune the PID parameters a bit better.</p><p>https://learn.adafruit.com/sous-vide-powered-by-arduino-the-sous-viduino/sous-vide</p>
<p>Cool, I'll check this out, thanks</p>
<p>Bacon wrapped steak....so cool. One thing I question is how good is medium rare bacon? With sous vide, you can cook this rare, medium etc. all the way up to &quot;why would you do that to beef?!!,&quot; but the thought of medium rare bacon kind of set me back. I'm thinking up ways to put crispy, or at least thoroughly cooked bacon inside and then cooking the beef to temp. Not sure your meat glue would hold on cooked bacon though. Hmmmm. </p>
<p>In this particular role the bacon serves up a subtle bacon flavor and sacrifices its delicious fat to take the place of a natural beef steak fat marbling. When cooked sous vide the bacon fat only barely renders, but the extended cooking time makes sure that any collagen that might have been present in the bacon is now super melty gelatin. It makes a great soft fat marbling similar (but bacon-ier) to a much higher end cut of meat. On the grill it serves to keep the areas of flank steak surrounding it more moist and tender. </p><p>On the note of attached crispy bacon: Cooked meats are harder to bond due to the lower bondable proteins when compared to uncooked meats. However there is &quot;Transglutaminase RM&quot; that additionally contains the milk-based protein sodium caseinate, to help bond to more difficult items, including cooked meats!</p>

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Bio: A passionate, nerdy engineer with an affinity for great food and wine.
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