If you ask a butcher in London for a London broil, you undoubtedly would get a funny look. If you ask a butcher in America the same, he might reply, “What cut would you like?”
That is because there is no such thing as London broil in England. And in America, it does not necessarily refer to a specific cut of meat.
The origin of the term actually is unclear. A London broil refers to a method of preparing and cooking rather than to a specific cut of beef. The method of preparation would entail choosing a large, thick cut of beef steak, marinating it for a period of time, grilling or broiling it, and cutting it into thin strips to serve.
Although originally flank steak was the cut of choice for London broil, over the years the term has been applied to cover any larger lean cuts prepared in this fashion. Most meat cases today feature a top round steak as their offering for London broil. I would say either a flank steak or a top round steak would make a fine choice.
Marinating your piece of meat will add a nice flavor to your steak. Some people like to keep it simple with something like salt, pepper, oil and vinegar. Others like to use a store-bought sauce, while still others enjoy mixing up their secret concoction the night before their grilling session. A good basic marinade could consist of olive oil, ginger, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey and herbs. These things seem to complement beef well. After that, there are no wrong answers. You can add any flavor that seems interesting. Beef is pretty hardy and can stand up to most flavors. Remember to not overmarinade. I believe it makes the meat mushy and can overwhelm the natural taste of the beef. An overnight or 6- to 12-hour soak should suffice.
The method of cooking is a medium-high to high-heat grilling. Depending on the thickness of your steak and the actual heat of your particular grill, the cooking times will vary. It should typically take anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes per side depending on these factors. The goal is to shoot for a medium-rare to medium doneness. Any more than that will make your steak tough. After removing from the grill, allow the steak to rest for five minutes. At this point the most important thing in the whole process is to cut your steak into somewhat thin slices across the grain. If you aren’t sure which direction this is, just ask your butcher.
London broil can feed a group of friends or family for a reasonable price. Even though it is considered to be a more economical cut, when prepared correctly this steak will deliver big on flavor and should be a part of any serious griller’s repertoire this summer.
“This is the standard we strive for every day,” he says. “The result is a hamburger that is second to none.”
Avalon Market butcher Bob Hause, 39, is in his 25th summer at the market, where he started as a stock boy. Hause was trained by Bill Williams, who has been cutting meat for 70 years. Hause recently completed an apprenticeship program under Joshua Applestone at Fleischer’s Grass-Fed and Organic Meats’ whole-animal butchery program in Kingston, N.Y.