London broil, despite what you might find at the local meat market, is not a cut of beef. Rather it is a method of cooking a steak. It was one of the first recipes to become popular in early restaurants in the United States and so the name London broil became synonymous with a cut of meat. Where this dish originated is unknown; it certainly didn't start in England, where the term "London broil" has no meaning. A London broil is a lean but tough steak that is marinated and then grilled or broiled.
What Is London Broil?
Originally London broil was made with flank steak, but over the years, the name has been applied to many other lean, thick cuts of beef, such as top round. Generally, you will find London broil being marketed as anything from a 1-inch steak to a 4-inch roast that comes from the sirloin or round sections of beef. These cuts all have something in common: They are lean and tend to be tougher.
Although the label may not direct the consumer how to cook the piece of meat, a London broil is meant to be marinated and cooked over high heat. It's a great way to get a really good meal out of a less expensive cut of meat.
How to Cook London Broil
The marinade traditionally used for London broil can range anywhere from a simple mixture of olive oil with salt and pepper to a mixture of a wide range of ingredients. (Chefs in earlier days tended to mix seasonings, sauces, and marinades more from what was on hand than from a specific recipe.) Marinate for 2 to 3 hours per inch of meat, and then it is ready to be cooked.
Grill the marinated flank steak hot and fast and to no more than medium doneness. Overcooking will make the meat tough no matter how long it was marinated. For a thick roast, grill it directly for about 2 to 4 minutes per side, and then indirectly for up to 30 minutes. The internal temperature should not pass 135 F.
Once the steak is cooked, remove it from the grill, cover it with foil, and allow it to rest, about 5 minutes for thinner cuts and 10 minutes for whole roasts. (Resting allows the meat to relax and the juices to flow back into the meat.) Then carve the meat across the grain and serve in thin strips for maximum tenderness.
What Does London Broil Taste Like?
A London broil is generally a tough cut of meat, but it has great flavor. If prepared correctly, it becomes a flavorful steak with a nice beefy taste and tender chew. Since it is marinated before being cooked, it will take on the flavors of those ingredients.
London Broil Recipes
A London broil begins with a good marinade. A great one to try is a mixture of soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger, balsamic vinegar, and honey. This gives it some basic flavors that complement the beef nicely.
London broil is great sliced over mashed potatoes (a traditionally favorite side dish), as well as turned into fajitas. You can use a London broil for almost any recipe calling for flank steak. The steak can also be slow cooked for rich-tasting, tender results.
Where to Buy London Broil
You will find packages of meat labeled as "London Broil" in the meat case of your grocery store. Most often, the supermarket butcher will choose one cut of meat to offer as a London broil, so the particular cut of meat can vary store to store. If you are unsure which cut it is, just ask the butcher.
How to Store London Broil
Raw meat of almost any kind can be kept in the refrigerator for three to five days. Once well-wrapped, it can be stored in the freezer for six to 12 months. If you have placed the London broil in a marinade but cannot cook it that evening, it will remain safe in the liquid for about four days in the fridge.
Nutrition and Benefits of London Broil
If the London broil is top round, it will have 210 calories and 6.4 grams of fat (2.2 grams are saturated) in a 4-ounce serving, as well as 86 milligrams of cholesterol. Top round is a good source of protein at almost 36 grams.
For 4-ounces of flank steak, you'll find 219 calories and 9.4 grams of fat (3.9 grams saturated). There's a lot less cholesterol at 62 milligrams and nearly as much protein with 31 grams. Both cuts are good sources of vitamins B12 and B6, which support the nerve and immune systems.