Flank steak is a delicious cut of meat perfect for grilling. From meat preparation to cooking techniques, learn everything you need to know about this flavorful beef steak.
Flank steak is one of the cuts of meat on the market, but what exactly is flank and why are so many people buying it? In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about flank steak, how to buy and slice it, alternatives, and how to grill and enjoy it.
What is flank steak?
Flank steak is a tough cut of meat, typically about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick and 12 inches (30 cm) long. It’s noticeably more stringy than most other steaks , and most people marinate it or add sauces to it.
This steak lends itself well to techniques such as grilling, as it cooks best hot and fast. Despite its popularity, it’s also relative, as it’s easy to cut into small pieces and use with other dishes like fajitas and stir-fries.
Flank steak has a strong beef flavor but almost no fat apart from a little on the edges. The phaser-like muscles are much more powerful here, but proper cooking will break down the tougher tissue and create a more tender cut.
What part of the cow is flank steak?
Flank steaks come from the dense abdominal muscles in a cow’s lower abdomen. A typical flank steak comes behind the plate, in front of the leg and just below the short loin and bottom sirloin.
This area finds some of the most important uses in the cow’s body, which is why flank steak is inherently tough. Firing processes aim to minimize hardness by softening and softening the coarse fibers.
How to buy flank steak
If possible, look for flat flank steaks. Most flanks are a little thicker in the middle, but the flatter the better. Look for dark red cuts with no other dark spots or holes. Avoid cuts with brown spots that indicate too much exposure to air.
Good flank steaks often have some connective tissue or fat at the end. you shouldn’t see a lot of fat in the cut. Flank steak quickly runs out of fat, if you also see too much it has been cut incorrectly. Make sure the edges are smooth and avoid parts with rough spots.
Flatness is important for this cut as it determines how quickly each area of the steak cooks. If only half of the steak is touching the grill, it may cook faster than the outer portions.
You can slice some of this steak to flatten it if needed. However, it’s best to get the flattest cut YOU can get from the store.
How to slice flank steak
You’ll die off the thin membrane before cooking if it’s still present on your flank steak. In some cases, you can pull it out with your fingers. If that doesn’t work, use a knife to cut it. A properly cut flank steak does not require further trimming.
After cooking let it rest for 5-10 minutes. This gives the meat time to sit and give off its best flavor. After waiting, cut it against the grain and down at a 45 degree angle. This helps separate the fibers and makes them easy to break and eat. Never cut flank steak with the grain or it WILL become too tough.
Flank steak substitutes
Here are some alternatives if you can’t find a flank steak.
Flank steaks also come from the cow’s belly and are basically similar to flank steaks. That makes them a deserved replacement.
A flank steak is long and thin, with visible muscle fibers and a layer of fat on top. It has a strong beef flavor and marinates well, making it a good choice for fajitas.
The main difference between flank steak and brisket is that brisket tends to be longer and slightly thinner than brisket. This means you should cook the breast shorter. It also has more fat, which you should trim to reveal most of the meat’s surface. Leave the marbling deeper, which adds flavor while cooking.
Flank steaks are rare cuts in many areas. If you don’t see any, ask the butcher if they have any available. This cut IS often used for Mexican dishes like fajitas and carne asada, making it a recurring theme in the southern United States.
Hanger Steak is a tasty alternative to flank steak. This cut comes from the cow’s diaphragm, an area that does minimal work. It’s easy to recognize because it has a long strip of non-pourable fat down the center. The ribeye is also one of the most tender cuts of meat, right after the loin.
The aged steak looks best on the grill and cooks quickly at about three minutes per side. Like the flank steak, it is seared well to medium and allowed to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.
Hanger steak is one of the most difficult cuts of meat to find. Each cow only produces one of these, and most go to restaurants. It is sometimes referred to as a “butcher cut” because butchers often keep it to themselves.
The easiest way to find a hanging steak is to order it from a specialty butcher. Consider calling ahead and reserving this cut, then pick it up on the day you want to use it. This cut can fetch high prices in fine restaurants, but smaller butchers often command prices.
Flat iron steak is a tender cut from the chuck, which is the shoulder area of a cow. This range offers meats with a rich, meaty flavor comparable to flank steaks. The slaughtering method removes the internal connective tissue, leaving a well-marbled piece suitable for grilling.
Like most other fine cuts, the griddle is at its best when cooked medium rare. Outside the grill, it is suitable for grilling and roasting. Some people cook is on the grill or vacuum. Regardless of the cooking method, the griddle has a slightly chewy texture than other top cuts.
Shallow skillet is relative to meat, retailing at around $10 a pound. Slice this steak thin and against the grain for the best flavor. Unlike flank steaks and sirloin steaks, flat griddle is relatively common in stores because each cow provides multiple cuts.
Tri tip steak
The tri-tip steak comes from the bottom of the roast beef. Each cow provides only two triple tips, making it moderately constructed as a hanging steak. This is a relatively large piece and boneless, so it’s easy to prepare.
Tri-tips usually have a greasy side. You can chop a little before cooking, but leave some while you cook to enhance the flavor. Remove greasy parts after cooking.
Cooking Tri-Tip takes longer than the other options on this guide, requiring about eight minutes per side for an average two-pound roast. Slice against the grain on each side to make two large slices, then carve each section separately to serve.
What is flank steak interchangeable with? Flank steak is a prime candidate for this position, and serves as an excellent substitute for flank steak in most recipes.
Depending on the location, these steaks come from the lower roast beef range and are also known as roast beef tips. It’s often cut into cubes or long strips, but YOU can order the whole steak from the butcher.
Like most thick steaks, the sirloin steak is a good way to lock in the flavors of the marinades. It has a strong beef flavor, so you may not need more than salt and pepper. Clearly recommend cooking this meat below 140 degrees as it tastes medium rather than rare.
How to grill flank steak
What is a flank steak if not for grilling? Preparing this cut on the grill is relatively easy.
For a regular grill, preheat on high and add some oil to the grates. This prevents the clippings from sticking to the grill. Most grills are about 450 degrees on their high setting.
Sear the steak for 3-5 minutes on each side. The interior should be at 130-135 degrees to cook it pink. A temperature of 125 degrees is not hot enough and 140 degrees is too hot. It may take some experience to determine exactly how long to cook a flank steak on the grill.
Ways to enjoy
There are many ways to enjoy a flank steak. Most people marinate their steak hours before grilling. This can carry a lot of extra flavor and help soften that chewy cut before cooking. The meat’s rich connective tissue also makes smoked flank steak a great way to get tender, flavorful meat on the grill.
Flank steak for reverse browning involves smoking at low temperatures before BEING browned on the grill, which is the reverse of the normal method. Reverse searing is effective for flank steaks as it provides additional control over the internal temperature.
Flank steaks are also a popular cut for fajitas, which typically include other grilled ingredients inside a tortilla.
Flank steak also makes a steak sandwich if you slice thin enough. Choosing a bun with a similar hardness can provide a more consistent experience when eating flank steak this way.