Vanilla Flank Steak

A Master Class in Vanilla, offered by theĀ San Francisco Professional Food Society and held at the International Culinary Academy, motivated my creation of this dinner featuring Vanilla Flank Steak. Vanilla specialists Nielsen-Massey discussed the story of vanilla and presented this recipe, among others, dispelling the thinking that vanilla is only for sweets. This savory recipe combined vanilla with chile sauce, chili powder, ketchup, chocolate, coffee, golden brown sugar Worcestershire sauce and garlic in which a flank steak is marinated for 18-24 hours, then grilled. While the recipe specified the NM essences of chocolate and coffee they offered, I substituted a little cocoa powder and ground coffee. What an incredible new taste sensation! Fingerling fries and pencil-thin asparagus were the perfect sides. So next time you use vanilla, remember to pay tribute to the Totonaco Indians of Mexico, the originators of this flavor. Then think how lucky you are now to choose vanilla from Mexico, Tahiti, Madagascar (or a host of other countries) when you start cooking!

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