London Broil... simply uttering those words can be enough to send chills down your spine. When I hear, "London Broil", I'm instantly brought back to one of my least favorite childhood meals. I can picture my Mom pulling a giant, dry steak from the oven that was about as tender as a hunk of cardboard. The sight alone would have me contemplating vegetarianism.
It wasn't that my Mom was a bad cook... far from it in fact. I loved my Mom's cooking. It's simply that London Broil is an inherently tough cut of meat. There are no two ways around it. Without some help, even the most seasoned chefs can fall victim to the perils of the dreaded London Broil.
Don't worry, It doesn't have to be this way... we can rebuild it. We have the technology.
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Step 1: So Yeah, London Broil Can Be Really Terrible Sometimes...
One of the major issues with this particular cut of meat is that it is incredibly lean. London Broil comes from the rear leg of the cow and is referred to as a "Round Steak". Steaks in this category can include the Eye Round, Bottom Round, and Top Round (In our case, we're actually going to be using a Top Round London Broil). These steaks are from the large working muscles of the cow and are known to be on the tougher side because of the lack of fat and marbling.
So by now, you must be asking yourself... if this is such a mediocre steak, why is it so popular in kitchens? Well, that's just simple economics my friend. The fact is, you can get a very large cut of meat for a very low price. That simple reason alone gives you the potential to feed the masses on a blue-collar budget. Here in New York (where everything is more expensive), I purchased a 2.5LB steak for $11.54. That. Is. A. Deal.
I mean it's not all bad... In fact, you can make a really delicious meal out of this cut of meat. Popular treatments for London Broil include long-term marinating, braising, wet/moist cooking, and other slow-cook methods. Bottom line is, dry and fast cooking methods will turn this steak into shoe leather.
BUT WHAT IF WE FORGOT TO MARINATE IT?! WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME?!
Don't worry... we have Pineapples... and science.
Step 2: So Here's What We Need.
As far as groceries are concerned... all you need is a cut of meat and fresh pineapple. In the case of this instructable, the cut of meat I'm using is a 2.5LB Top Round London Broil (but any cut of meat will work for this method). The Pineapple is your average, run-of-the-mill pineapple. I prefer using the whole fruit, but presliced rounds or cubed chunks are fine if that is all you have access too. Try to find a Pineapple you would want to eat by itself. Look for something that's more yellow than green and make sure it smells like a pineapple (I like to smell the base of the fruit to check for the aroma). The fruit doesn't have to be too ripe if you can't find one, after all... the steak isn't going to taste like pineapple anyway.
Yeah, you read that right... the steak isn't going to taste like pineapple. We'll get into that a little bit later.
So that's it for groceries, but... if you want to follow along with this instructable exactly, you'll need a few more items.
- Food Processor/Blender
- Gallon Size Plastic Bags
- Lemon Pepper
- Barbeque Grill
Now let's say... you want to try something a little different. Maybe you want to use the top-secret blend of herbs and spices that you put on all of your steaks. Maybe you want to add a marinade. Maybe you fancy yourself a filet mignon. Maybe you want to cook your steak in the jet exhaust of your SR-71 Blackbird. That's cool.
You're here for the pineapple.
Step 3: Alright... Let's Do This.
So up until this point... all you've heard about is how average this cut of meat is. This is the part where we make it awesome. This is the part where we take this one star cut of meat and give it the fives stars it truly deserves. This is the part where we take this lowly sidekick and give it the magnificent spinoff that captivates an entire... you get the idea. We're going to tenderize the steak. No, we're not going to pound it flat, or puncture it with a million holes, or cover it in salt. We're going to... pineapple... it.
- The first thing to do is cut the pineapple into half-inch rounds. I start by cutting the tops and bottom off the pineapple and discard those. The most important thing here is that you leave the skin on! I know, it's weird. Just trust me on this.
- Once the pineapple is sliced into rounds the next step is to quarter it. To speed things up a bit, I like to make a stack of rounds so I can quarter 3 or 4 slices at a time. Just remember to take your time and never do something you are uncomfortable with. If you don't feel confident in yourself quartering this way, go a slice at a time. Better safe than sorry.
- The next step is the food processor. Starting with half of the pineapple, pulse the food processor until you have a smooth puree. Continue to add your quarters until all of your pieces are blended smooth. If you don't have a food processor you can use a blender instead.
- Now let's turn our attention to the meat. Remove your London Broil from the package and place it in a one-gallon resealable bag. You do not need to dry or season the steak at this point. Once in the bag, take your pineapple puree and pour it over the meat. You should have more than enough to cover the entire steak.
- Lastly, do your best to remove most of the air in the bag and seal it up. Toss it in the fridge for an hour and let science do its job.
I did say there would be science... didn't I?
Step 4: Tenderizing. WITH SCIENCE!
Alright, so this is interesting and all... but how does it work? It's all about enzymatic action. We're basically using the natural enzymes found in pineapple to help breakdown the proteins in the meat.
Pineapples contain the enzyme Bromelain... a common ingredient found in commercial meat tenderizing powders. Bromelain is found in all parts of the pineapple plant, which is the reason why we include the skin of the pineapple in our puree. Submerging our London Broil in the pineapple helps to break down collagen and give the meat a more supple mouthfeel. This technique allows us to take a very lean/dry cut of meat and give it a similar texture/moisture to a steak which contains a higher fat content. This also lets us to bypass longer/slower cooking methods and get the most out of our London Broil in a much faster time.
It's very important to note that canned or cooked pineapple will not have tenderizing effects.Bromelain is easily "denatured" when heated. Once the pineapple has been heated up in the canning or cooking process, it will lose its ability to tenderize.
The magic in this... is that this technique can be applied to any cut of meat, however, meats that are naturally higher in fats will not need to be tenderized as long. Lean meats should not be left in the pineapple for longer than an hour, fattier meats will need about half the time. Overtenderizing will lead to a soft/unpleasant texture or worse... It could potentially dissolve all of the connective tissues leaving you with a giant meat puddle. Gross.
Now about that bag of steak and pineapple in your fridge...
Step 5: Time for a Bath!
So there is one very important thing we need to do before we cook... and that is to thoroughly wash our steak. The higher concentrations of Bromelain in the core and the skin of the pineapple can actually begin to work on your tongue, giving your mouth a nasty itchy feeling. That feeling is actually the enzyme dissolving the inside of your mouth. So yeah... wash it off. Okay?
Once everything is all clean... take some time and thoroughly dry the steak. At this point, you should notice a significant difference in your London Broil from when you first put it in the bag. I could literally feel my steak falling apart and the color of the steak went from a deep red to the color of corned beef. The reason for the color change is because the acids in the pineapple have begun to slowly cook your steak. You've kind of made a London Broil Ceviche.
At this point... you're kind of good to go. You can continue to follow along with this instructable... or you could go rogue. Try your favorite marinade, spice blend, maybe cook it in the oven... the choice is yours. No matter how you choose to proceed, you'll notice a considerably more tender cut of meat.
As for me... I liberally coat both sides of my steak in salt, pepper, and lemon pepper. This is a very large cut of meat, so season liberally. It's pretty hard to overseason a steak this size. I like to use kosher salt and freshly ground coarse black pepper.
Now as for the heat...
Step 6: Telling Time With Your... Steak?
So let's get that grill going... While I'm washing and seasoning my London Broil I like to get my grill super hot. I try to get my little three-burner Weber Genesis to around 500º-600º Fahrenheit. Make sure you let your grill hang out at this temperature for about 10-15 minutes before cooking. Hovering at this temperature with no food on the grill will get the grates very hot and help create awesome grill marks.
This is where it pays to have an analog clock... To get those classic "X" shaped grill marks, I first place my steak on the grill so it points to 10 o'clock. For a steak this thick, I want to cook it on each side for about five minutes to get a medium-rare temperature (feel free to use a grill thermometer or add time for a more well-done steak). After the steak has been at the 10 o'clock position for about three minutes I'll reposition it so it points to 2 o'clock for the last two minutes. Once the steak has finished cooking on that side, I'll flip it over and repeat the process.
Mo' Butta, is Mo' Betta... If you haven't put butter on your steaks, you just aren't living. Once I've pointed the steak to 2 o'clock for the last time, I'll finish the cook by adding a couple of pats of butter on top of the meat. Not only will this add tons of flavor, but it will also help add a little moisture to the meat.
Now you may have noticed... that those grill marks don't seem as dark as you might expect for a steak that has been cooking for that long and at that high of a temperature. Science strikes again. Proteins on the surface of your meat are one of the contributing factors for creating dark grill marks. Remember, we've dissolved some of the proteins in the meat so the color may not be what you're used to. Either way, it's going to be delicious.
Let's put the London Broil in this Top Round...
Step 7: Wait... Hasn't This Been a London Broil the Whole Time?
Well, technically... no. London Broil isn't exactly a cut of meat. Your mind must be like... totally blown right now, man. London Broil actually refers to a method of preparation. Classic London Broil is usually marinated Top Round that is thinly sliced across the grain. This method of preparation became so popular, butchers began labeling Top Round as London Broil. It's kind of like how all adhesive bandages are known as band-aids.
All that's left to do now is... Let the steak rest for approximately 15-25 minutes and then slice it up. Resting proteins that have been cooked at high heat keeps the juices locked inside the meat and not all over your cutting board. I like to slice the steak on a bias across the grain. Slicing in this fashion shortens the fibers in the steak ensuring that you don't have a bite that's too tough.
Alright, now it's your turn... You've made it this far and hopefully, you're about to enjoy the most tender London Broil you've ever eaten. I really appreciate you taking the time to check out this instructable, it was super fun to put together. Instructables has been such an amazing source of learning and discovery for me and I'm so happy to be able to contribute to it. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask, I would be glad to help in any way I can. Enjoy and happy cooking! I look forward to seeing what you all come up with!