By ROBIN MATHER JENKINS
As spring matures, I seek the jubilant flavors and brilliant colors of Latin America. Though a warming dish of lamb stew certainly has its place on a brisk April day, sometimes the very opposite of comfort food hits the spot more precisely.
Flank steak, here rubbed with spices and marinated briefly before a run under the broiler, is my favorite steak. Its big-beef flavor more than makes up for the finicky necessity of slicing it at a 45-degree angle across the grain (which renders the flank toothsome and succulent instead of tough and chewy). It's lean, too, so cribbing a second helping is a less weighty issue.
Broil the beef, then place the slices on a platter. Set that on the table alongside a bowl of refried beans and some warmed tortillas plus garnishes, and let the happy eaters fend off gustatory boredom in their own way.
Chipotle-orange flank steak
Warmed flour tortillas
Chilean red wine
You also can marinate the steak overnight in the refrigerator.
If you plan to cook the steak straight from the fridge, add a minute or two on each side to the cooking times.
CHIPOTLE-ORANGE FLANK STEAK
3 large cloves garlic
3 chipotles in adobo, 1 tablespoon sauce reserved
Juice of 1 large orange
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon each: oregano, salt
1 flank steak, 2-2 1/2 pounds
Combine garlic, chipotles and sauce, orange juice, olive oil, oregano and salt in a blender or food processor; puree. Rub the flank steak on both sides with the mixture; transfer to a food storage bag. Pour the remaining marinade over the steak; set aside at room temperature 20 minutes.
Position oven rack in the center of oven; heat broiler. Remove flank steak from marinade; discard marinade. Pat steak dry with paper towels. Place on a greased or foil-covered jellyroll or broiler pan. Broil to desired doneness, about 8 minutes per side for rare or 9 minutes for medium-rare. Slice the steak across the grain in very thin slices.
Yield: 8 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 196 calories, 57 percent of calories from fat, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 48 mg cholesterol, 1 g carbohydrates, 19 g protein, 255 mg sodium, 0.1 g fiber.