My last post was for a Napa cabbage salad with champagne vinaigrette, which I mentioned Steve and I paired with a grilled flank steak. This was the grilled flank steak. And what an outstanding grilled flank steak it is! Not only because flank steak is a great cut of beef. But also because of the tarragon caper sauce that was served over it.
Over 25 years ago, back when we were living in the Phoenix area the first time around, I learned how to make this sauce from a TV show. Here are the details surrounding my first acquaintance with this sauce.
- It is a Jacques Pepin recipe (of this I am sure)
- Featured on a PBS cooking show (of that I am not sure)
- It was in the 1990s (I could be off by half a decade or so)
- He served it poured over fresh cut artichoke (I am also very sure about that)
- He mentioned it was a versatile sauce, well suited to grilled meats. (I am very, very sure of that because the first time I tried making it, we served it over grilled beef.)
I remember it like it was yesterday! It is so vividly clear to me…in spots. Give or take a few things. Like the exact proportions of Jacques recipe.
See, I have been making this pretty much since then. When I decided to share it with you, I wanted to see how my making it over the last couple of decades or so might have shifted from Chef Pepin’s original recipe. So, I looked for his recipe online and could not find it. I tried searching in a bunch of different ways, with no luck.
I can’t compare and contrast my recipe for tarragon caper sauce with Chef Pepin’s. But I can tell you that I believe it is very close to his. I’m pretty sure all the ingredients are the same. Maybe the measurements for each are a bit different.
Believe it or not, this sauce makes grilled beef taste even beefier. I don’t know what it is. Maybe the combination of acid from the vinegar, the brininess of the capers, the sweet and tart crunch of the lightly pickled onions, with the gratifying, silky fat of the olive oil, all elevated by the earthy tarragon flavor. Somehow this all comes together to make grilled beef really sing.
let’s make some grilled flank steak with tarragon caper sauce
All the ingredients are for the sauce, because the flank steak only takes salt and freshly cracked pepper. Since the sauce has so much going on, the steak should be seasoned very simply to let the beef flavor shine through cleanly.
Make the sauce first, preferably an hour before. The red onions benefit greatly from sitting in the red wine vinegar and pickling for a bit. Mix everything together and then cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter until ready to use.
Season the flank steak well on both sides with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Use your palms to press the seasoning down into the meat to lightly embed the flavor.
Then grill over high heat to get a really ingrained sear on the outside. How long that takes will depend on the thickness of your cut of meat. This flank steak was a 2-pound cut. Steve grilled it (yes, he helped me out, so officially, this post guest features chef de grill, Mr. Steve Kemph) for about 6 minutes per side. And this is where I recommend a beef thermometer and suggest you follow its directions for your preferred degree of doneness
Once the meat is cooked to your preference, transfer it to a plate, loosely tent it with some tin foil, and let it sit for ten minutes or so. The meat will continue to cook a bit while resting, so allow for that. Resting meat allows the juices to settle so that you don’t lose all the moisture as soon as you cut it.
Then slice that gorgeous cut of meat at a diagonal, against the grain, and spoon the tarragon caper sauce over the top. Make sure you get plenty of onion and capers over the meat. Because it makes it SO yummy!!!!!
For a delicious, low-carb meal, do what we did and pair it with a delicious Napa cabbage salad with champagne vinaigrette. Or not. It’s up to you. Shoot, eat the flank steak all by itself. It’s that good!
- 1 2-pound flank steak, room temperature
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup red onion, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons capers
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- Cracked Pepper
- Mix all the ingredients for the sauce.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover the sauce with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature.
- Season the flank steak well on both sides with salt and cracked pepper.
- Use your palms to press the seasoning into the meat to lightly embed the flavor.
- Then grill over high heat to obtain a defined sear on both sides. Cooking time will vary depending on desired doneness and thickness of the steak. For best results, use a meat thermometer.
- Once cooked to desired doneness, remove the steak to a dish and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
- Slice the steak at a diagonal, against the grain, making slices about 1 inch wide.
- Spoon the tarragon caper sauce over the sliced meat, making sure to include plenty of the lightly pickled onion, and serve.