Ask a person how they’re doing in December and their answer – jaws clenched – is predictable: “I’m so freaking busy…insanely busy… busy busy busy.”
I, too, feel the pain. There are so many expectations driving up the busy-meter we forget to breathe. We want to deck the halls and create festive meals celebrating the season, yet the last thing we’ve time for are complicated recipes to unravel. At first glance the following recipe may appear as such: butterflying and stuffing steak, kitchen twine – get real. But this is a dish that looks more complicated than it really is.
This Flank Steak Florentine may be assembled prior to cooking, up to 6 hours in advance, makes a stunning presentation and is fairly easy to prepare. The end result, to me, is worth the small amount of fuss. Most importantly, the tangy, melted cheese and spinach rolled into marinated beef is delicious; your vegetable and protein requirements wrapped in a tidy bundle of bliss.
To insure your success, I will explain, in detail, how to butterfly the meat. First, sharpen your largest chef knife, remembering that the objective is one large, flat, thin piece of meat, suitable for stuffing and rolling. To do this you must cut through the center of the meat, sandwich style, to make equal halves. Never cut all the way through the meat; one end remains secure, as a book binding, serving to keep the piece of meat intact. (Note that partially freezing the meat about 15 minutes will make the cutting process easier.)
To begin, with the steak perpendicular to you, press one hand firmly on top of the meat. With the other hand, carefully slice though the middle, beginning at the thickest part, taking care to insure your blade remains in the center of the beef and does not tear either side of the meat. Stop slicing when you are about 1-inch away from the end. Then, open the meat as you would a book. If your final butterflied beef is irregular in thickness, or thicker than 1/4-inch, pound it with a meat mallet to have one uniform piece of meat, ready for stuffing.
If you don’t have a large chef knife or simply don’t want to bother, order your beef in advance from a local butcher and explain how you want it butterflied. Simpler still, call Sparrow Meats in Kerrytown and order a Flank Steak Roulade. In fact, watching Bob Sparrow stuff flank steaks with spinach and cheese last week gave me the idea for creating the recipe below.
But I encourage you to try this at home. Because once you get the hang of making a roulade, you’ll realize the same technique translates to chicken breast, turkey, pork, seafood fillets, and even sliced eggplant or cabbage leaves. And stuffings can be a simple as binding various cheeses and breadcrumbs with whatever spices and leftovers you have on hand.
Served with pasta, polenta, mashed or baked potatoes, family and friends will marvel how “oh so busy you” could find the time to pull out the stops, once again.