Flank Steak Spirals With Spinach, Figs and Fontina 4.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

May 30, 2012

Grilled, roasted or even braised, this stuffed flank steak slices into beautiful spirals of savory green filling with melted cheese.

You'll need a thin, flexible knife, kitchen twine and perhaps some wooden skewers for the meat.

Make Ahead: The figs need to macerate for at least 30 minutes. The spinach mixture needs to be refrigerated for at least 20 minutes. Preparation involves butterflying a flank steak, making a five-minute filling, and rolling it into a roast, all of which can be accomplished 1 day in advance; let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

Servings: 4 - 6
  • 6 dried figs, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup ruby port
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the meat
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 12 ounces baby spinach (may substitute 10 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and drained)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted (see NOTE)
  • 2 ounces fontina cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1/4 cup; may substitute mozzarella)
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
  • 3 tablespoons chilled salted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes


Combine the figs and port in a wide and shallow glass bowl, making sure the fruit is covered by the liquid. Heat in the microwave on LOW until they are warm. Let them steep (on the counter) for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once it starts to shimmer, add the shallot and stir to coat. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add the spinach all at once along with the 1/4 teaspoon salt, letting the leaves steam and deflate. Use tongs to turn the spinach and cook for a few minutes until it wilts. Season it with the 1/8 teaspoon pepper, stir in the vinegar and cook for 1 minute.

Drain the spinach well in a fine-mesh strainer, then transfer it to a mixing bowl.

Drain the figs, reserving the port in a small saucepan. Add the fruit to the spinach along with the pine nuts and fontina cheese. Squeeze or press to remove as much liquid as possible. Use the tongs to mix all the ingredients evenly, taste for salt (adding as needed) and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or until well chilled.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large ovenproof grill pan over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, trim and discard any silverskin from the flank steak. To butterfly the meat, use a thin, flexible knife to make a shallow cut down the center of the meat. Use your clean fingers to separate and widen the cut. Place the blade of knife flat against the meat, then move it so that you're cutting parallel to the work surface, rolling back the increasing hinge of meat as you work. Stop cutting once you reach the natural edge of the meat; at this point, the top flap of meat should lay open and flat, still attached. Repeat on the other side; when you're done, the surface area of the steak will have increased and the meat should be uniformly thin.

Alternatively, if the flank steak is less than 1 inch thick, pound it with a meat mallet to a thickness of 1/2 inch.

With the long side running parallel to counter's edge, use a fork to spread the chilled spinach filling to within 2 inches of the far edge of the steak and 1 inch from the sides. Starting with the edge closest to you, roll the meat tightly over the filling, like a cinnamon roll. Tie the roll in 5 to 6 places with kitchen twine, secure with silicone bands or use three short wooden skewers to stitch the end closed. If any bits of filling spill out, just tuck them back in the ends. Rub the rolled steak with oil, and season it with the salt and pepper to taste.

Carefully place the steak on the grill pan. Sear on all sides; this will take about 5 minutes. Transfer the grill pan to the oven. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 125 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the saucepan of port over medium heat. Once it's bubbling at the edges, cook for 2 minutes or until it becomes syrupy. Reduce the heat to low; whisk in the butter one small piece at a time to form a thickened sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat.

To serve, snip and discard the twine around the steak. Use a sharp, long-bladed knife to cut the steak crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices and divide among individual plates. Drizzle each portion with the port sauce.

NOTE: Toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the skillet a few times and being careful not to burn them. Cool before using.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Pure Beef," by Lynne Curry (Running Press, 2012).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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