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Flank Steak - An economical beef cut worth a try

Friday, April 19, 2013

Excerpts of this blog were taken from an article written by Chef Dez in the Crescent Bar Chronicle

Flank steak is a delicious cut of beef for the barbecue because it has great flavor, and is extremely tender when cut and prepared properly. Due to the fact that there are many people that don't know much about this specific cut, it tends to be a very underrated steak in comparison to more popular cuts such as strip loin, sirloin, ribeye, etc. There is also a lot of misinformation in the media about flank steak and I hope to clear up some of this confusion for you.

Beef flank steak is a long, flat cut of meat from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It is also randomly referred to as a "skirt steak." It is significantly tougher than other cuts of meat as it comes from a strong, well-exercised part of the cow. The direction of the grain of the meat and connective tissue is prominently visible, especially in the raw form. Moist heat cooking techniques, such as braising, will be successful in making the meat tender, but it can also simply be grilled to a rare/medium-rare/medium doneness and sliced thinly across the grain, and still be very tender.

Many chefs insist that one must marinate a flank steak before grilling in order for it to be tender. This is not true. Although marinating is fine to do with a flank steak, it is an optional step, not a requirement. The acid in a marinade will break down the connective tissue over time, but I have barbecued many flank steaks that have been "melt-in-your-mouth" tender with no marinating whatsoever. The secret is to make sure you don't over-cook the steak, and then slice it thinly in the opposite direction of how the grain of the meat is running (across the grain).

For optimal flavor, first coat it with a spice rub, grill it to the desired doneness, let it rest for a few minutes. Slice it very thinly across the grain, and then drizzle it with garlic butter. When slicing it thinly, I also make sure I slice it on an angle, approximately 45 degrees. Flank steak is a very thin cut of meat and slicing it on a 45 degree angle will make more elongated slices and provide better plate or sandwich coverage. Letting it rest after cooking will help the steak to retain more of its juices. All meat, from a small steak to large roasts or turkeys, should have a resting time for this reason. The bigger the size of the meat, the longer it should rest. I let a flank steak rest for at least five minutes.

Do not be tempted to score the surface of the steak with a knife before grilling. Although at first it may seem to make sense to put cuts into the surface of the meat to aid in the penetration of the marinade into the inside of the steak, this goes against one of the golden rules of grilling meats: Never pierce your meat. The goal of cooking meat is to have the end result as juicy and flavorful as possible. If you pierce your meat (by jabbing a fork into it for flipping, or cutting into it), then valuable juices will be lost. Meat that has been scored prior to cooking will suffer the same damaging situation. Always use tongs to flip your steak, not a fork.