Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cook an Exotic Steak Dinner on a budget

There are many versions of rolled beef and all of them use a cheaper cut of meat and cook it in a way to make it tender. The Italians have braciola, the Germans rouladen, the English, beef olives. My favorite by far has to be “Matambre” which is rolled and stuffed flank steak that is popular in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

The best thing about it is that it’s a very easy dish to make and is quite spectacular looking when served especially if you pick brightly colored vegetables to stuff inside your flank steak.

Because the flank steak is so large, you can get quite a lot of vegetables inside it and it looks so appetizing even the pickiest eaters will want to give it a try.

Matambre also a fairly economical dish because flank steak is still relatively inexpensive compared to other cuts of meat. This cut of meat needs usually needs to be cooked really rare (so it doesn't dry out). In this dish, the steaming that happens inside the foil, makes this often tougher cut of meat stay tender.
Unlike many steak recipes, leftovers keep quite well in the fridge and the dish tastes good the next day even as a cold appetizer.

Here’s the recipe:

Matambre or Rolled Flank Steak


I large flank steak (2-2.5 pounds)

1 large or 2 small carrots, cut lengthwise into pencil thin

1 large red bell pepper, sliced

½ green bell peppers

1 cup spinach leaves (I use baby spinach)

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Juice of 1 lime

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp red chili flakes

1 teaspoon dried organo

4 cloves garlic chopped fine

2 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

Large sheets of foil to wrap the


1.       Trim flank steak of excess fat and silver skin and pound using a meat mallet or rolling pin until the thick areas are thinned down. Try to maintain a rectangular shape

2.       Lay the flank steak on a large cutting board and squeeze lime all over it. Then sprinkle the salt, pepper, cumin, red chili flakes, dried oregano and garlic all over it. Use fingers to rub spices into the meat.

3.       Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on the meat and then layer the spinach leaves. Leave ½ inches on all sides of the meat uncovered.

4.       Layer the vegetables in the center of the flank steak.

5.       Season vegetables with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and place in a large foil so it can be wrapped tightly.

6.       The steak should be rolled up so that when you cut the roll, you cut the steak against the grain of the meat.

7.       Drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly in foil.

Here it is just before I rolled it up.

Rolled up, seasoned and ready for the oven

8.       A couple of hours before serving, preheat oven to 450C and cook for one hour.

9.       Remove from oven, let rest for 15-20 minutes then put foil wrapped steaks in a large dish to catch the juices and open. Slice in ¾ inch slices and serve along with juices.

So what happened to the picture of the final product?

When I came home from my game of tennis, my wife had hacked into the matambre and it looked like a dog's dinner!

I have to use a picture I found on the web:

  • The Matambre should look like this! 


For more flavor you can add sautéed bacon or sliced up smoked sausage (I like linguica for this).
You can throw the foil packets on a grill and cook for 45 minutes, turning a couple of times to brown evenly
A good accompaniment with this dish is mashed potatoes or pureed parsnips especially with a sauce made with the juices.

To make a sauce you can add a cup of beef stock to the juices that are released when you open up the foil packets and reduce in a pan. Use a little cornstarch or buerre manie to thicken the sauce. I use a gluten free buerre manie made by mixing Bob’s Red Mill All purpose Gluten Free flour with a tablespoon of butter in my hand. It thickens the sauce without any lumps. Add only a little at a time so the sauce does not get too thick. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then serve the Matambre with a drizzle of the sauce and more over the mashed potatoes or pureed parsnips.

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