The Untold Truth Of London Broil Steak

You've decided to mix up your dinner routine and make your first London broil. You go to the grocery store, head to the meat aisle, but there's not a London broil to be found. What going on? The truth is that London broil is not a cut of beef but a method of steak preparation. Ready for another reality check?

There's nothing English about London broil. Despite its name, the roots of this dish trace back not to London, or anywhere else in Great Britain for that matter, but to the good old U.S.A., according to Taste Atlas. The term "London broil" first appeared in print in 1931. Legendary food writer James Beard, in his 1972 cookbook American Cookery, attributes the birthplace of the London broil to the city of Philadelphia, according to Cook's Info (although this can not be verified). According to The Spruce Eats, London broil was one of the first menu items to gain popularity in early restaurants in the United States. In 1919, The Evening World Newspaper of New York City carried an ad for The World restaurant, which was offering "London broil with French fried potatoes" for $0.40. 

The technique makes cheaper cuts of beef more delicious

Early "London broils" were simply pan-fried flank steaks that were sliced against the grain before serving, according to Taste Atlas. But the London broil technique we know today evolved as a way to cook a cheaper, less desirable cut of beef, like the flank steak, in a way that transforms it from something tough to something tender and delicious. 

Over time, cuts other than flank steak, including top round, chuck shoulder, and sirloin tip became common for use in a London broil. (In fact, because of its increasing use in London broils, some supermarkets have begun selling top-round steak under the name the "London broil" label, according to Delish). Integral to the London broil process is marinating. Acidic ingredients like vinegar, citrus juices, wine, or tomatoes are said to help to break down and tenderize meats that are lean, tough, and thick, though Reluctant Gourmet claims marinating only adds flavor. 

Epicurious suggests a London broil marinade of balsamic vinegar, garlic, lemon, mustard, dried herbs, oil, and "just a bit" of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce for a nice umami flavor. Reluctant Gourmet suggests a simple olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, and ginger marinade. Depending on the thickness of the cut, you should marinate the steak from four to 24 hours.

Use high heat, but don't overcook

This cooking technique also evolved over time to favor broiling, which explains the name "London broil" (via Taste Atlas), and backyard chefs have even discovered the attributes of cooking London broil on the grill. Broiling imparts a delicious flavor from the marinade while keeping the interior of the meat in the rare-to-medium rare range that is ideal for these tougher cuts of meat. Grilling is another great cooking method for London broil.

To cook these cuts, broil or grill them five inches from the heat source, flipping once, until a meat thermometer reads 130 degrees to 135 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare (remember that meat continues to cook after it has removed from the heat.) Allow your London broil to rest for five minutes before cutting it into thin slices, advises The Salty Marshmallow. Beef on a budget? Calling it London broil classes is up a bit. If you make it correctly, you can have a flavorful and tender steak without breaking the bank.