How to Cook One Steak for a Crowd

How to Cook One Steak for a Crowd
Contributor: Claire Lower

As the weather warms up in the Northern Hemisphere and people continue to be vaccinated, BBQ guys across the land are firing up their grills and planning their projects. The idea of cooking for a (vaccinated) crowd doesn’t seem so far off, and outside is the safest place you can feed a group of people. Steak is always a crowd-pleaser, but cooking a bunch of individual steaks to varying degrees of doneness feels more “short order cook” than “dinner party host.”

Bigger cuts of meat are the way to go, but large pieces of muscle are rarely uniform in shape and size. The flank steak, for instance, is tapered at one end, and the thin end cooks much more quickly than the thick one.

If you want a large amount of meat all cooked to the same end point, you can cut the teardrop-shaped piece of steak into two pieces and cook each one to the desired temperature; but if your particular group of eaters can’t agree on what that perfect end point is, you can capitalise on the steak’s uneven shape and cook it all at once for a platter of meat that has everything from rare to medium-well.

Unlike a skirt steak, a flank steak actually stays pretty tender past medium, provided you get it there quickly (over hot heat), and slice it thinly (so you don’t spend the evening chewing on long muscle fibres). Dress it with a board sauce for extra juiciness.

Rare! Medium-rare! Medium! Medium-well! It's all there! (Photo: Claire Lower)
Rare! Medium-rare! Medium! Medium-well! It’s all there! (Photo: Claire Lower)

I am still working on my flank steak “recipe,” but it’s not a hard piece of meat to cook. Just salt it generously about an hour before go-time, blot off the excess moisture, and brush it with just a little bit of oil so it doesn’t stick to the grates (some people prefer to oil their grates, but I like oiling the meat).

Set up your grill so there are two zones of heat — you want one side super hot and the other around 100C. Sear the steak until a dark crust forms and the inside of the thickest part reaches the rarest temperature requested by a someone from your party. I aim for around 50C with flank steak. If you notice your steak is getting a little too dark but has yet to reach its target temperature, move it over to the cooler side to finish it.

Once you hit that temp, get that hunk of meat onto a cutting board, preferably with the aforementioned board sauce (if not using a board sauce, rest your steak for five minutes to let the juices redistribute before serving), and slice to reveal a rainbow of meat that will please a crowd, no matter how “done” any one individual likes their steak.

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