Sous Vide Flank Steak Tacos with Red Onion Compote & chèvre

sous vide flank steak tacos
Sous vide strikes again! This time, we’re exploiting science for perfectly medium-rare, ultra-tender flank steak.  And, since we’re throwing ethnic authenticity to the wind, why be predictable with our condiments?  Salsa and Monterey Jack are out, red onion compote and chèvre (goat’s cheese) are in.  If you’re not a sous vider (yet), you can cook your flank steak however you like: broiled, grilled, smoked, or fried.

Makes: 4 Tacos Scientificos
Total kitchen time: 30 minutes (+12 hours cooking time)
Special equipment: Vacuum sealer, sous vide water oven

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb. flank steak
  • 1 tsp. Mexican seasoning blend
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 four tortillas
  • 1 cup crumbled goat’s cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 bunch cilantro

  1. Pat the steak dry and coat all sides with Mexican seasoning blend and lime juice.  Vacuum seal the steak in a bag large enough that the meat lays flat (but still fits in your water oven).  Cut the meat into two pieces and seal separately, if needed.  (If you’re not cooking your steak sous vide, place it in a zip-top bag or a covered shallow dish and let it marinate overnight). Note: although it might be tempting to add aromatics like garlic to the marinade, don’t! Your kitchen will smell like ass by the time the meat is done.
  2. Set your sous vide water oven to 56°C.  Add the vacuum sealed steak, making sure the meat stays submerged.  Cook for a minimum of 1 hour, up to 48 hours.  The picture above shows the meat after cooking for 12 hours, which was perfectly tender.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a medium saucepan over moderate heat.  Add the red onion and reduce the heat to low.  Let the onion sweat 5 minutes, until it is slightly translucent, but not browned.  Add the dark brown sugar, sherry vinegar and salt and stir to combine. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and making sure the mixture doesn’t boil or burn. 
  4. Remove the bag from the water bath and let the meat rest, still in the bag, for 10 minutes before searing.  Remove the meat from the bag and pat dry on all sides.  Sear with a blow torch, under the broiler, or in a smoking-hot pan.
  5. Slice the meat perpendicular to the direction of the muscle fibers, and on a sharp bias. 
  6. Assemble the tacos: tortilla, sour cream, steak, cheese, onion compote, cilantro.  Enjoy!

Cooking the steak sous vide rather than just grilling it may sound like a pain in the ass since you have to plan 12 hours ahead.  However, the hardest part of cooking flank steak is getting your timing right. Leave it on the grill 1 minute too long and it’s overcooked and tough; take it off too early and it’s raw.  And, if you’re entertaining company, you may be more focused on your margarita than your steak.  Cooking your meat sous vide lets you be laissez-faire with your timing – sometimes I even sear my steak before company arrives and return it to the water bath to keep it warm until we’re ready to eat.

Herb-Smothered Flank Steak with Stuffed Eggplant Wedges

flank steak 
At my home, grilling doesn’t get more perfect than a medium-rare charred piece of meat and tender, flavorfull roasted veggies.  This meal is a great way to feed a hungry crowd on the cheap (and the quick!)  Remember your flank steak science, though: never cook past medium rare, let the meat rest at least 15 minutes, and always slice on a steep bias. 

Makes: 4 people long for margaritas
Total kitchen time: 1 hr, plus marinating time

Shopping list:

  • 1 2-2.5 lb. flank steak
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup mint, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small red or yellow peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. ancho chile powder (or fajita seasoning)
  • 1/4 cup coarse breadcrumbs (diced day-old bread is best)
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup shredded jack cheese
  • olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine half the smashed garlic, half the cilantro, half the mint and all the peppers in a small food processor and pulse until the mixture is pretty fine, but not a paste.  If necessary, add a tbsp. of olive oil to help things out.
  2. Liberally salt and pepper both sides of the flank steak, and season with cayenne pepper and chile powder.  Rub with olive oil and 2/3 of the garlic mixture you just made.  Reserve the rest for after the meat has cooked.  Let the meat marinate in the fridge for up to 12 hours.  Let the meat rest at room temperature for 45 minutes before cooking.
  3. Preheat your grill on high heat and make sure your grates are nice and clean.
  4. Cut off the top and bottom of the eggplant.  Slice the eggplant into 4 wedges, lengthwise.  Then, score the flesh of the eggplant deeply (but not going through) with your knife at 1/4” spacing.  Turn the eggplant 90° and score it again to form a crosshatch.  Toss the eggplant with olive oil until lightly coated, then salt and pepper.
  5. In your mini food processor, pulse together the remaining garlic, cilantro, and mint along with the bread crumbs, lemon zest and 1 tsp. of olive oil.  Rub the mixture into the scored flesh of the eggplant, pushing it down into the cracks. 
  6. Grill the eggplant, flesh side down, just long enough to develop char marks, about 1 minute per side.  Set the eggplant on a rack above the grilling surface, or on a cooler side of the grill.
  7. Grill the flank steak until medium rare, about 6 minutes per side.  Let the meat rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.  Slice the flank steak on a steep bias with a sharp knife.
  8. Arrange the sliced meat, eggplant, and whatever other good stuff you’ve got going on a large platter.  Sprinkle the shredded jack cheese over the eggplant and serve to adoring fans.

If you can get comfortable grilling flank steak, you will always have a date for dinner.  Throw in a cool red wine or a pitcher of sangria and it’s a party!