Steak comes from the Old Norse, steik, which translates to “meat roasted on a stick.” There are many cuts of steak, from tenderloin to flank. One cut is called the round steak, so called because it comes from the round, the hind leg. Since this group of muscles is used frequently, meat from this area tends to be moderately tough and quite lean. The lack of marbleizing in the round steak makes it tough when roasted or grilled. More common methods of cooking are braising and broiling, which tends to tenderize the round steak and maintain moisture within said steak
. Types of round steak include the top round steak
, the bottom round steak, and the eye of round steak. The top round steak, coming from the outer part of the rear leg, is moderately tough and lean; the bottom round steak, coming from the inside of the hind leg, is a little tougher and has a bit less fat. The eye of round steak is only slightly tough and dry, For this article, we’ll use the top round.
History of Round Steak
The top round steak is often called the London Broil
for the way it is commonly prepared. However, the dish is not even served in London, England. It is a North American dish thought to have been first prepared in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the early 1930s. Little is really known about how or why it was started, but the ingredients list is often long because the chef grabs whatever ingredients he has on hand to flavor the top round steak.
Nutrition value of the Top Round Steak
For these nutritional facts
, you should assume a serving size of nine ounces. A top round steak serving of that size has 519 calories
and thirteen grams of fat, with four grams coming from saturated fat. It has 235 milligrams of cholesterol and 117 milligrams of sodium. There is no dietary fiber in a top round steak, but there is 94 grams of protein. Eating a top round steak will also give you forty-eight percent of your daily intake of iron.
Shopping for the Best Top Round Steak Cut
The first step to shopping for the best top round steak cut is to make friends with your local butcher. Whether at a supermarket or a luxury butcher’s shop, your local butcher will have tips and ideas on picking the right cut. You may even end up with a cut of top round that you otherwise would not have noticed. If you are shopping without the help of your local butcher, however, there are a few things you should look for. First, your steak of choice should be a bright red. If it is a dark red or brown, this means the cut has spent too long outside refrigeration. Second, while top round steaks
are lean, look for white lines running through the meat. This is called marbilization, and is actually lines of fat. When cooked, the fat will melt into the meat and make it more tender. Finally, for this recipe, look for the thickest cut that fits your need. This will allow the outside to brown before the interior does, giving the steak more flavor and keeping the steak from drying out. One last note of warning: not all cuts labelled “London broil” are top rounds. Some shops label cuts London broil if they are flanks that have been marinated or are good for marination. Remember to check with your butcher to find out what top round cuts
are labelled in that store.
Preparing a London broil
The best method of preparing a top round steak is to broil it in the style mentioned above. The London broil both gives the steak flavor and tenderizes the meat. Marination for two hours will also lend some wonderful flavors to the steak. Never marinate for more than two hours, however, as this can cause bacteria to build up in the meat.
There are only six tools necessary for broiling top round steaks. First, you will need paper towels during preparation to pat the meat dry
. You will also need a dish large enough to cover the meat in the marination; this dish should have a lid so it can be placed in the refrigerator. The next tool you will need is an oven grilling rack. This kind of rack should sit six inches away from the broiler, and can be found at any store that has kitchen supplies. This is the rack you will set your meat on. Just as important is the dripping pan, a simple pan that can also be bought at any store that has kitchen supplies
. This sits at the bottom of your oven and catches any juice that falls from the meat so you do not end up with a messy oven. Covering the dripping pan with aluminum foil is a good idea as it means one less dish to wash. Finally, it is necessary to have meat tongs to remove the meat when it is finished. Meat tongs are long wire tongs with squarish to circular pieces on the end that grab the meat well.
To make this dish, you’ll need the ingredients for the marinade and the meat itself. Here are the ingredients:
- 12 ounces red wine
- ¼ cup water
- 3 tablespoons ginger
- 4 tablespoons garlic
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- 2 pinches oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 thick top round steak
Tips and Tricks
The conventional oven is admittedly not the best place to cook a London broil, but if it’s all you have available to you, it will work. However, you need to observe these tricks and tips
to make for the best experience.
The first trick is to use a thick round steak instead of a thinner cut. You should use the thickest cut of top round that you can find. Second, cook the steak directly from the refrigerator, instead of waiting for it to thaw out. These two tricks will allow the steak to brown on the outside without overcooking the interior.
Now, here are a few tips about the oven. Before doing anything with the oven, please make sure it is clean. Otherwise, smoke will start spewing from your oven at the high temperature necessary for broiling and it will set off your smoke alarm. After preheating the oven to the high temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, you will want to open the door of the oven to let the heat out. This will allow the oven to get hot enough to cook the steak faster. Also, when you are cooking the meat, leave the oven door partially open. This will maintain the higher temperature, allowing your steak
to get brown on the outside, but keep the interior from drying out.
1. Pat the steak dry with paper towels to take off any excess water.
2. Mix all of the ingredients together and place in a dish large enough to cover the meat with the other ingredients.
3. Refrigerate and marinate for two hours. Note: Never leave the meat marinating on the counter; this is another trap for bacteria accumulation.
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit Remember to leave the oven door open to help the oven get to that temperature faster.
5. Place the grilling rack and meat in the oven.
6. Broil the steak until the top side is brown. Flip and add extra marinade to the new side.
7. Do the same to this side until it is cooked to your taste.
8. Remove with meat tongs and let rest for three to five minutes.
Is It Done?
Whether or not your London broil is done depends on the grade of doneness you want to cook it to. If, for example, you want it rare, cook until it is 125 degrees Fahrenheit. For medium rare, aim for a temperature of 130degrees. Medium calls for a temperature of 145 degrees, and medium well done should be at 150 degrees. Finally, 160 degrees should be your goal if you want well done.
Always take the meat off the grilling rack when it is five degrees below the desired temperature. During the resting period, it will cook further up to the right degree of doneness.
Serving the Top Round Steak
When serving the London broil, cut it into diagonal strips after the resting period and place the strips on a white plate. Diagonal strips
will not cut against the grain, making certain that the steak strips are tender and flavorful. A white plate will make the presentation of the steak most beautiful.
Sides that Go with This Dish
When it comes to the London broil, side dishes should be flavors that help bring out the savory flavor of the meat. Here are some of the best dishes to go with the London broil:
- Garlic and cheddar mashed potatoes: Mash three pounds of boiled and diced white potatoes. Add two cloves of garlic and mix with a potato masher or a hand mixer. Top with one cup of medium cheddar cheese
- Mashed sweet potatoes: Prepare three pounds of sweet potatoes the same way you would white potatoes. Mash in ½ cup brown sugar, one stick of butter (no margarine substitute!), and ½ tbsp.. cinnamon. Mash completely with a hand mixer or potato masher.
- Steamed broccoli: Place a steamer insert into a sauce pan and add water to just below the steamer. Bring water to a boil. Add one stalk of broccoli cut into florets, cover, and steam. Remove when tender, in five to ten minutes. Mix steamed broccoli with one tablespoon butter and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
- Steamed asparagus Place a steamer insert into a sauce pan, and add water to just below the steamer. Bring the water to a boil. Add one pound of asparagus, cover, and cook for three to five minutes, or until the asparagus turns bright green. Remove from heat, and add a squirt of lemon juice to the asparagus in a bowl. Toss the asparagus to mix the lemon juice evenly. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste.
- Garden salad: For the base, use romaine hearts and baby spinach, washed and destemmed. Mix in one cup shredded carrots and three stalks of celery that have been washed and cut. Top with fresh peas, sliced cucumber, and radish slices. Dress with balsamic vinegar.
- Baked potato with sour cream and chives: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash one potato for each guest. Pierce each potato with a fork three to four times (this gives the potato ventilation and prevents explosions). Bake potatoes for one hour or until tender to the fork. Cut each potato open three-quarters of the way and add one tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of sour cream, and a dusting of cut chives.
Picking the Complimentary Wine
London broils have lots of flavor from marination, seasoning, and the meat itself. Such a robust flavor calls for a robust wine. Here are a couple of options you might like.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Often called the “king of red wine,” this is the favorite of many for pairing with a London broil. This wine’s full-bodied flavor can stand up to any top round steak, no matter how it is cooked. The high alcohol level can also make the meat more tender and the wine seem smoother.
- Malbec: Up and coming outside of South America, Malbec is nonetheless uncommonly drank except in Argentina. In Argentina, it is considered an excellent wine to pair with steak, and marinated steaks such as a London Broil in particular. While the flavor can vary greatly depending on where it is grown and how it is transformed, it usually tastes of plums, berries, and spice. This robust flavor is what makes it perfect for the well-flavored London broil.
- California Zinfandel: Because of its high acidity and moderate tannins, Zinfandel is much more suited to steaks with high fat contents. However, it should be mentioned here as an alternative to the other two wines mentioned. It has a bold, spiciness and a richness on the palate. It is a bit less refined than cabernet sauvignon, but more commonly found than malbic. It is a good substitute for the other wines.
While there are three cuts of round
, this article focused on the top round, a cut that comes from the top of the hind leg and is commonly used for London broil. Before you can get started, finding the right cut is pretty simple with the tips you learned above. Just remember that the cut should be bright red, have a bit of marbelization, and be the thickest cut to serve your needs. After finding the right cut
, you’ll need to cook it in the fashion above to give the meat the best chance of being tender and flavorful. Side dishes that go with a London Broil include steamed broccoli or asparagus, garlic and cheese mashed potatoes, or a garden salad. Add some cabernet sauvignon, Malbec, or California zinfandel wine to the table, along with dinner rolls and an apple pie, and you have the perfect steak dinner that you can proudly share with friends or family.
If you would like to try the best steak in Brooklyn
, come over to Atlas Steakhouse!