When meat goes on sale I stock up for the weeks ahead. We have a chest freezer and food items at the bottom can be forgotten. The other day I found a flank steak, (a pricey cut of meat) and saw, to my dismay, that it had freezer burn.
What is freezer burn anyway? It happens after food has been frozen for a long time. Meat develops white spots and the texture and flavor are changed. In fact, red meat may look gray or pale brown. These discolored areas are dry and one of the best ways to cook the meat is with a method that adds moisture — braising or using a slow cooker.
Seeing dry, discolored meat may make you worry about food safety. Don’t worry. According to the USDA, freezer-urned meat is still safe to eat. One edge of the flank steak was burned, but it was such a small area that I left it alone. But the USDA recommends cutting away badly burned sections. “Heavily freezer-burned foods may have to be discarded for quality reasons,” notes the USDA.
Though I had stored the steak i a heavy plastic bag with a zipper closing, over time, it had still developed freezer burn. To add moisture, I decided to cook the steak in seasoned broth. I defrosted the steak in the microwave and cut it in half to fit in my slow cooker. (I have the smallest size.) As it cooks the steak shrinks a bit, so you need to keep this in mind when you plan your meal.
A few hours later, my husband and I were feasting on some of the tastiest steaks we have ever eaten. The slow cooker method will work with balltips, round steak, and other tougher cuts of meat. Usually flank steak is sliced across the grain. With the slow cooking method, however, you cut with the grain or shred the meat. Everyone in the family will enjoy this flavorful recipe.
1 flank steak (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups no-salt beef stock
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tomato, chopped
3-4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup gravy flour (approximate – you may need more)
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepared mashed potatoes
Place cooking bag in slow cooker. Stir ketchup into beef stock. Lay flank steak in cooker. Pour stock mixture over meat and scatter vegetables on top. Cover and cook on high setting for 3 1/2 hours on low or 5 hours on high setting. Remove meat and set on cutting board. Whisk water into flour to make a slurry, making sure there are no lumps. With cooker in high, stir slurry into liquid, and cook until sauce thickens. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Put lid back on slow cooker to keep sauce hot. Shred meat and lay on top of mashed potatoes. Top each serving with a generous amount of sauce. Serve with a green vegetable or salad. Makes 4 generous servings.
Copyright 2013 by Harriet Hodgson