Grilled flank steak with salsa criolla is a delicious grilled meat dish that is so full of flavor and really easy to make. The criolla sauce is so amazing and tasty.
If you like to grill steaks with just salt and pepper, the criolla sauce added to the top when serving will take care of the rest! This recipe has a step by step for flavoring the meat along with making the criolla.
Grilling any kind of meat plain (or with a little salt and pepper) then adding a delicious sauce afterwards, is really one of my favorite ways to cook meat. If you add a little of the sauce on top of your steak as it is resting after the cooking, the meat will absorb those flavors quickly and make your meat taste delicious.
Add ing your sauce afterwards also helps prevent the outside of your meat from burning (you know when you add that marinade beforehand just to have it get charred). It also preserves the freshness of the sauce that you are using so you are tasting the way the sauce the way it should be.
This flank steak and criolla recipe comes from my sister in law who is a wonderful chef and someone who has studied the history of food extensively, especially regarding the countries of South America. While this dish is used all over Argentina to this day, the exact origins probably came about during the time of the Spanish colonization many years ago.
What my sister in law learned while studying Peruvian culture (which was greatly intertwined with other South American countries at the time) was “many countries called foods that were invented in the new world, but were made with old world ingredients (and eaten mostly by Europeans) creole or “criolla,” as opposed to indigenous.” I love learning about the different foods we eat and how they came about!
My favorite things about this dish
Most of the items for the criolla, you will probably have in your refrigerator or pantry making this a great recipe to have on hand. The items you will need are:
- red pepper
- shallot or Spanish onion
- White vinegar
- dried or fresh thyme
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- skirt steak
- brown sugar
- salt and pepper
- dried thyme
- chili powder
Another thing that I really love about this dish is it is really fool proof! This will never come out bland and it will always be a hit! The criolla sauce can be used on many different items too.
I love using it on chicken or as a dip for french fries. You could even scoop it up with tortilla chips.
Make it Ahead of time
This whole Argentinian steak dish can be made the night before and will actually taste even better that way. The criolla sauce will have time for the flavors to all marry together. If you are using the rub recipe for the steak, that will also need a bit of time to absorb into the meat.
As I mentioned above, I often skip the rub and just make the criolla and then season the meat with salt and pepper before grilling. No matter what your schedule allows for, it will come out great.
Grilled Flank Steak with Salsa Criolla
Flank steak and rub
- 2 lbs flank steak
- 4 cloves garlic minced and mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt
- 1 Tbsp dried thyme
- 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp chili powder
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2.5 lbs steak
- 2 large ripe tomatoes cored, seeded, and finely diced
- 1/4 Cup yellow onion minced
- 1/4 Cup red bell pepper finely chopped
- 1/2 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp white-wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 pinch of pepper
- 1/4 tsp fresh thyme or 1/8 tsp dried thyme
Flank steak rub
- In a small bowl, mix the garlic paste with the thyme, black pepper, the chili powder, brown sugar, and salt.
- Arrange the steaks on a rimmed baking sheet and pat the spice rub all over them.
- Cover and let sit for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day in the refrigerator.
- In a medium bowl, combine the tomato, onion, red pepper, oil, and vinegar, salt, black pepper and thyme. Mix well. Refrigerate for up to 3 hours – 1 day before serving.
Cooking the steak
- Heat a gas grill to medium high or prepare a hot charcoal fire.
- Grill the steak (covered on a gas grill) until it has good grill marks on the first side, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the steak; if using a gas grill, reduce the heat to medium and cover the grill.
- Continue to cook until done to your liking (make a slit in the steak to take a peek), 4 to 5 minutes more for medium rare; 6 to 7 minutes more for medium.
- Remove steak from grill, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Slice VERY THINLY across the grain. Stir the salsa criolla and serve on the side with the steak.