When you’re a kid, having a birthday in the winter is kind of the pits. All of your friends (or brothers) with summer birthdays get to have these awesome parties at the pool, at the beach, or even in your backyard. But when the weather is cold and you really can only do something inside, having a February birthday really isn’t that fun. Knowing this, my mom always did her best to try to make my birthday special. She started “birthday week” where she gifted me one present every single day of the week before my actual birthday—which she still does to this day. She also asked me what I wanted for my birthday dinner, and if I wasn’t forcing my family to take me to Pizza Works to look at all the toy trains, I would ask Dad to make London Broil.
I know. It’s a really strange thing for a small child to ask as a birthday dinner. But when I was 10 years old, I thought London Broil was one of the most lavish meals you could have because we rarely had it. My parents were conservative with money growing up, simply because they had to be. We ate a lot of the same meals on rotation, like beef stroganoff and tacos. But every now and then, my parents would buy something special to make for dinner, and London Broil was one of those meals. It was my first taste of steak, and I instantly fell in love. So I guess you could say even at a small age I’ve always wanted to be a little bougie.
What’s even funnier about all of this is how cheap London Broil is. If you haven’t heard of it before, let me fill you in. London Broil is a style of cooking a very cheap cut of steak. I’m talking cheap…like I bought a pound of it for $3 at the store. Typically you marinate London Broil for a few hours, then cook it on high heat—typically under a broiler.
The story of London Broil is a humbling one for me. It not only helps me to appreciate how hard my parents worked to be where they are at today, but also how great they are at making even the smallest things (like a cheap $3.00 cut of meat) feel special. It makes me look at my life and think about how grateful I am for what I have, and how happiness never is associated with a dollar sign. Happiness is what you make of it. Happiness is being able to enjoy all that you have with the people you love.
So for my 27th year of life, I’m celebrating with London Broil. But instead of cooking it in the traditional way (marinating and broiling it), I wanted to cook it similarly to how my father would cook it for my birthday. When he made me London Broil, he started with a dry rub and grilled it.
Except…I live in Brooklyn in a small apartment and I don’t have a grill. Instead, I cooked the London Broil in a cast-iron skillet, because it’s the closest cooking method to grilling that I can get in my current circumstances. Don’t worry, it’s still delicious. But I’m confident in saying that cooking it on the grill is still ten times better.
Before I dive into the recipe, I leave you with this: you don’t need a vast budget in order to cook lavish meals for someone you love. You can cook with what you have (this whole meal literally cost us $5.00) and make the most of it. Because cooking isn’t just about the food. It’s about who you share the table with.
London Broil with Shiitake Mushrooms
- 1 lb. London Broil steak
- 10 oz. Shiitake mushrooms
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. coriander
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- Mix together the brown sugar, paprika, coriander, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
- With clean hands, rub each side of the steak with the seasoning rub. Let the steak sit on a plate with the dry rub for at least 15 minutes. If you have time for longer, let it sit for 1 hour.
- Cut off the stems of the shiitake mushrooms, then dice them into tiny pieces.
- In a small pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, then add the mushrooms. Cook on a low setting for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the mushrooms are cooking, heat up a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Melt the other 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. When the butter sizzles, the skillet is ready.
- Add the London Broil to the skillet and let it cook for 3 minutes on each side (6 minutes total). Turn the heat off and remove the skillet from the burner (leaving the steak in the skillet).
- Use a meat thermometer to see if it's done after cooking—should read 135 degrees for a medium-rare. If the meat is not ready, loosely cover (also known as "tenting") the top of the skillet with aluminum foil and leave the steak for 5 minutes. Check the temperature again.
- When the meat hits anything above 135, or to whatever desired toughness you want for the steak, remove it from the skillet and place it on a cutting board. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice the steak against the grain. Serve the slices with the buttery shiitake mushrooms, as well as any other sides (or cocktails!) you desire.