When you are looking for an impressive meal that is easy to make and can be prepped ahead, look no further than these stuffed flank steak pinwheels.
Flank steak has a great beefy flavor that can be butterflied and pounded thin to make a wrapper for all your favorite fillings. You have a craving for Italian, pile on sun-dried tomatoes, your favorite cold cuts, and cheese and roll it up. If you are in a mood for Mexican, try thinly sliced peppers, jack cheese, and grilled onions. You get the idea. This recipe is my classic filling of spinach, sautéed mushrooms, and provolone. I have included a quick marinade to get the flavor party started, but you can cut straight to the chase and just assemble the fillings on the meat, roll, tie and cook.
The Difference between Flank Steak, Skirt Steak and Hanger Steak
This thicker cut comes from the flank of the cow. It is large, lean cut that is located near the hind flank and wrapping up around the abdomen. This means the muscle is naturally lean. Flank steaks can be butterflied (opened up) to make a large thin piece of meat or left thick so when you slice it (perpendicular to the very distinct lines of the muscle) it makes thinnish slices that are great for french dip or Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. It is also perfect to grill, stir fry and use in a variety of cuisines. I always have a flank steak in my freezer. While flank steak does benefit from a marinade to tenderize it, the versatility of this cut makes it one of my favorites.
This long, thin, chewy cut is a hardworking tough muscle (actually the diaphragm muscle of the animal) located between the abdomen and the chest of the cow. Traditionally, this is the cut of beef used for fajitas. It is important to marinate this cut to tenderize it. And make sure you cut it against the grain of the meat to maximize tenderness. It is often the least expensive of the three cuts and is full of both fatty deposits and beefy flavor that stands up to a marinade or dry rub.
This steak is called a hanger steak since it hangs between the tenderloin and rib (think near the strip, ribeye and loin). Because of it’s locale in the animal, it is naturally tender. Often hard to find in the meat department, since there is only one per cow, it is great to grill and enjoy.
The Flat Iron steak is not the same as the hanger steak since it comes from the front shoulder (so not as tender), but is also a great general-purpose steak to try.
Since this recipe wants a large, flat piece of meat to stuff, look for a flank steak.
Tips for Great Stuffed Flank Steak Pinwheels
- You will want to flatten the meat to an even thickness. Check out this post for how to butterfly meat. It is important to have the meat about the same thickness so the stuffed flank steak rolls up and cooks evenly.
- Layout the twine before you start layering the filling. Trust me, this is important. Space the baking twine at 1-1/2 – 2 inch intervals. Then position the flank steak so the grain of the meat is running perpendicular (at a 90° angle) to the twine. Once the meat is cooked, simply snip off the twine and slice the pinwheels where the twine was tied for a beautiful presentation.
- Cool your fill to room temperature. The sautéed mushrooms should not be hot when layering on the meat. Not only does having the ingredients cool help you roll the meat better since they have already given up liquid when cooking and compressed down so the roll will be tighter, but it is a food safety issue as well.
- Leave a 1/2” border of meat at the edges of the meat so the filling doesn’t completely ooze out. Some bubbly goodness should be expected but leaving a border helps minimize that.
- Don’t layer the filling too thick. You want a balance between the thickness of the flank steak and the filling inside.
- Have the top layer of filling be cheese, it can be sliced or grated, but the melted cheese helps holds the pinwheel in shape.
- Roll the stuffed flank steak tightly, you don’t want to squeeze the roll so hard that the filling is pressed out, but tight enough that everything is nice and snug.
- If you have time, let the stuffed, rolled, and tied flank steak chill in the refrigerator for a rest to firm up. This means you can prep the stuffed flank steak even the day before and simply remove the meat from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you start to cook it.
- Do sear the meat on all sides before you put it in the oven to roast. Not only does this give the meat a beautiful color, but it amps up the flavor as well. Use a frying pan with an oven-proof handle.
- Cook to the proper temperature. Flank steak does best when cooking to medium rare which means when it reads between 130° – 135°F. Since the meat is thin, it won’t take more than an hour (closer to 45 minutes depending on the size and weight of the flank steak) to cook in the oven.
- Once the meat has finished cooking, let it rest for 15 minutes before snipping the twine. This rest lets the juices redistribute throughout the meat and will make for beautiful stuffed flank steak pinwheel slices.
These stuffed flank steak pinwheels are so impressive. They are filled with spinach, provolone cheese, and mushrooms, or you can customize the filling to fit your taste and occasion.
- 1–1/2 pounds flank steak, butterflied and pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
Flank Steak Marinade
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 6 ounces crimini mushrooms, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 onion, finely diced, (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon season salt
- 1–1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 8 slices provolone cheese (6 ounces)
- Salt and pepper to season
- 1–1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Lay the flank steak on a cutting board with the grain of the meat running left to right. With a sharp knife, inert the tip horizontally into the middle edge of the steak. (Place your free hand flat on the top of the steak).
- Start slicing with the knife, carefully cutting with the grain, from edge to edge When you get about half way through, lift up the flap of meat like a book, and using just the tip of your knife, very carefully cut until it’s being held together only by 1/2”.
- Use a meat mallet or heavy frying pan to pound the meat open and flat to an even thickness. (If you need help, there are lots of videos on the internet that will walk you through the process.)
- In a large zip-close bag, combine the marinade ingredients. And place the butterflied flank steak in the marinade and refrigerate for four hours.
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil with vegetable oil and saute the diced mushrooms and onions until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the onions are translucent. Stir in 1 teaspoon of season salt and remove the mushrooms to a small bowl to cool to rome temperature.
- After the meat has marinated, remove the flank steak from the bag and pat dry.
- Arrange long pieces of twine every 1-1/2” – 2” across the cutting board. Place the butterflied flank steak with the grain running perpendicular to the twine on top of the twine.
- Season the meat with salt and pepper.
- Lay the spinach leaves down in a single layer across the top of the flank steak. Arrange the sautéed mushrooms and onions in a thin layer over the spinach.
- Shingle the provolone cheese slices over the mushrooms.
- Rotate the cutting board so the twine runs top to bottom. Start rolling the meat with the edge closest to you, pulling the meat firmly. (Make sure the twine is not included in the roll.) Continue rolling the flank steak until it is a cylinder.
- Tie each twine piece securely and transfer the meat to the refrigerator to firm up.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Remove the meat from the refrigerator for 30 minutes. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable and sear all the sides of the flank steak.
- Transfer the frying pan to the preheated frying pan. Roast the meat in the oven for 45-60 minutes or until the meat registers 130° – 135°F.
- Remove the stuffed flank steak from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Let the meat rest for 15 minutes. After the meat has rested, snip and remove the twine. Slice the stuffed flank steak pinwheels where the twine has been tied.
- Serve the pinwheels with mashed potatoes and beef gravy.
Keywords: flank steak