This was my mother's most-used cookbook. As a young wife and mother, she consulted this venerable tome for all of her American-style cooking needs - meatloaf, pot roast, fried chicken. (The authority for Polish cooking was my grandmother, of course, who lived downstairs.) Over time, she added recipes that she found elsewhere, like this one for "Steak Continental." (See it typed out on the pages pictured?) It was one of my favorite meals, and I would often beg Mom to make "flank steak." God, it was good.
2 lb flank steak or 3/4" thick round steak
1 clove garlic, quartered
1 tablespoons salt
2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves
Score flank steak or trim all fat from round steak. Mash garlic with salt; add soy sauce, tomato paste, oil, pepper, and oregano. Mix well and rub into steak. Wrap in waxed paper and let stand in refrigerator 6 hours or overnight. Broil 5 to 8 minutes each side. 4 to 6 servings.
I found the recipe printed in various places on the Internet, no credit given, often with ketchup replacing tomato paste, but otherwise verbatim. Where did this recipe come from originally? Who deserves credit for this simple and delicious method of meat preparation?
I made this last night, without the oil and oregano (it's not enough oregano to make a difference, and who needs the extra oil?) and using 3 cloves of garlic. (Yeah, you wusses probably will want to stick to the recommended 1 clove, but 3 or 4 makes for a far superior flavor.) Despite Tony Bourdain's aversion to the gadget, I love my Pampered Chef garlic squoosher, so omitted the whole garlic/salt mashing mess (it's not so great for a knitter's hands to smell garlicky). And six hours really isn't enough time to allow the marinade to penetrate the meat - I recommend a good 24-hour period (take flank steak out of the freezer on Friday, marinate on Saturday, cook and serve on Sunday).
The meat is garlicky, with a nice char on the edges, and tender within (if cooked to medium-rare). It's a versatile dish, that if made for two, gives up lots of tasty leftovers. The flavor profile is one that goes equally well with a mound of mashed potatoes or a pile of Asian-style sesame noodles. Sliced cold, it's tasty on a salad. And it works just as well on the grill as in the broiler, so it's perfect for summertime entertaining.
Take it from me, it's great. Go make some.