Chefs can work culinary wonders with all types of meat cuts, balancing and contrasting flavors to create new and exciting flavor experiences, but there is something visceral, almost feral, about cutting into a piece of meat that’s been cooked over an open flame. The mystical process that transforms raw meat into a tender, juicy bite, with just enough smokey char on the outside to give it unparalleled flavor.
London broil describes a method of cooking. The first stage is the marinade, the second is the cooking. There is no cut of meat that called “London Broil” regardless of what it might say on the label in the supermarket. This is simply a method shops use to attract your attention, and for less scrupulous owners to raise the price as well. If they can call a flank steak London broil and charge extra, they will.
There seems to be a great deal of confusion about what is a London broil. No one knows where it came from or how it got its name. It is not an English dish, as it first appeared in print in the 1930s in the US. If I had to guess, London was the surname of the person who first prepared it, or, simply a marketing name to make this cheap piece of meat sound “Continental.”
Only a few cuts of beef are naturally able to be grilled without turning them into shoe leather; fewer for kosher consumers. Meat for grilling should ideally:
- Comes from a muscle group that doesn’t get constantly worked so the meat isn’t tough
- Be marbled with fat – not silverskin or connective tissue – so the meat doesn’t shrink
- Contain a layer of covering fat so the meat doesn’t dry out
The piece of meat to use for London Broil should be no more than 6 centimeters thick. This will allow for the heat to penetrate into the meat quickly without overcooking the outside. The meat should have some fat on it, which can be cut off after the meat is cooked, but it shouldn’t have any silverskin on it at all which means you might wind up trimming away the fat. The grain of the meat should run the length of the cut. If you have a meat tenderizer, it would be a good idea to use it at this point to help break up the meat fibers so that the marinade can penetrate into the muscle.