Familiarize yourself with flank steak, one of our favorite cuts for fast meals loaded with lots of bold beef flavor. This versatile cut is perfect for summer grilling or sliced into thin strips for various recipes.
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Welcome to Steak Cuts 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Delicious Cut of Beef
When it comes to the perfect cut for steak fajitas, light salads, tender slices of beef for tacos, in a stir-fry, or grilled roulades, it’s hard to top the flank steak. But at first glance, this cut can look odd and even be trickier to cook, but once you start adding flank steak to the meal plan, you’ll quickly fall in love with this lean, affordable cut.
This flavorful and versatile lean cut of beef is perfect for busy weeknights and quick meals.
So what is flank steak? Well, it’s a long and lean cut that comes from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It works well in a variety of dishes, from tacos to stir-fries. But how do you cook it to get the best results? We’ve got you covered with tips and tricks to help you make mouth-watering flank steak every time.
The Cut: Flank Steak
Flank steak, cut from the flank primal, is located on the lower loin area of the cow, in the area behind the plate below the loin primal. It’s a well-exercised part of the cow. Flank steak is the only cut from this primal; it can also be labeled Jiffy steak, plank steak, or beef flank. It’s an incredibly lean unique flat cut of beef in how the grain of the meat runs longways through the entire length with minimal marbling for a lean steak with minimal fat.
Due to the unique grain of flank steak, how you cook and slice it is integral to how much your guests will like it. It’s similar to other long cuts from the belly, like skirt steak, but can be a bit more affordable and come with more significant weight to feed the family.
Around $8.99 to $9.99 a pound, this cut is usually around 1 1/2 pounds to 3 pounds at your local grocery store or butcher. If you can’t find it locally, check out our list of the best online meat delivery services for where we order meat online.
How to Cook Flank Steak
Flank steak is a popular cut of beef that is versatile and easy to cook. It’s a lean and flavorful cut that can be cooked in various ways, such as grilling, broiling, pan-frying, or baking. However, cooking it perfectly can be challenging, depending on the thickness of the steak and desired doneness. Here are five easy tips to help you cook the perfect flank steak recipe every time:
- Marinate the Steak: Flank steak is a lean cut of meat that can easily become tough and chewy if not properly marinated. The best way to tenderize the meat is to soak it in an acidic marinade for at least 2 hours or overnight. Check out our favorite go-to Flank steak marinade recipe.
- Preheat Your Grill or Pan: Before cooking your flank steak, make sure your grill or pan is preheated to high heat, around 400 degrees F. This will ensure that the meat sears quickly and evenly on both sides for the perfect sear and tender medium-rare internal temperature.
- Don’t Overcook It: Flank steak should be cooked to medium-rare (130-135°F internal temperature). Any longer than that and it will become tough and dry. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature as you cook.
- Let It Rest: After removing your flank steak from the heat source (grill, pan, broiler), let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing into it. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it more tender and with a better beef flavor.
- Slice Against The Grain: When slicing your flank steak, always cut against the grain (perpendicular to muscle fibers) for maximum tenderness.
How to make Flank steak tender?
Start by tenderizing the beef with a flank steak marinade. This step is important for two reasons;
- The acid in the marinade helps tenderize the beef
- It also adds a richer beef flavor to an otherwise mild cut.
Here are some tips on how to marinate flank steak for maximum flavor and tenderness:
- Choose the right marinade: The marinade you use will determine the flavor profile of your flank steak. You can opt for store-bought marinades, but homemade ones give you better control over the ingredients and flavors. A good basic marinade includes olive oil, acid (vinegar, citrus juice), flavor enhancers (Worcestershire sauce) spices, herbs, and salt and pepper.
- Use an acidic ingredient: Using acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice in your marinade helps break down the tough fibers in the meat while adding tangy flavors. Just be sure not to overdo it or marinate too long because too much acidity can turn your steak mushy. A good ratio is 1/3 acid to oil.
- Don’t skimp on salt: Salt helps bring out the natural flavors of meat and enhances them with other ingredients in your marinade. However, if using sodium-heavy ingredients in your marinade, like soy sauce, consider that when adding additional salt to the steak.
- Marinate for at least 2 hours: For best results, let your flank steak marinate for 6 to 12 hours (overnight) in a sealed container or plastic baggie before cooking it. This allows all those amazing flavors to penetrate deep into the meat’s fibers fully.
- Dry it: Make sure to remove the flank steak from the marinade and dry it completely with paper towels before grilling or cooking it. The ingredients of the marinade can cause flare-ups or burning on the meat.
- Cook it perfectly (no pressure): When you’re ready to cook your marinated flank steak, remember to grill or broil it quickly over high heat so that its exterior forms a nice charred crust without drying out its interior during cooking.
Flank steak Recipes
Flank steak is one of those cuts of meat that takes well to higher temperature cooking. This makes it a good choice for a hot cast-iron skillet, grilling, or even broiling as a cooking method. To get you inspired, here are some of our favorites recipes for cooking flank steak.
How to Cut Flank Steak
After you’ve masterfully cooked your tender flank steak to 130 degrees F and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes, cutting the flank is the make-it-or-break-it step in the success of this cut of beef.
This is because of the long grain of the boneless cut. The length of the grain makes it tough to chew unless you slice it correctly.
- Start by looking at the steak and locating the grain.
- Next, rotate the steak, usually about a 45-degree angle, for easy cutting so that the blade of the knife will slice against the grain along the shorter side of the steak.
- Then, slice the flank steak into thin slices, about 1/4″ each. This helps break those long tough muscle fibers into short little bites for the best mouthfeel and chew when you bite into the steak.
What is flank steak good for?
This is the perfect cut of beef for dishes that use thin strips of beef. Serve it as
- Vegetable-loaded stir-frys
- Grilled tacos
- Beer-marinated grilled steak fajitas
- Stuffed grilled pinwheels
- Blue cheese steak salads
- Peppery arugula and steak sandwiches or wraps
- Pretty much any dish that requires thin strips of beef
Pairing Wine with Flank Steak: Expert Recommendations and Pairing Tips
When pairing wine with flank steak, experts recommend choosing full-bodied red wines with a good balance of tannins and acidity that elevate the dining experience and accentuate the marinade. Here are some expert recommendations for pairing wine with flank steak:
- Malbec: This Argentinean red wine is known for its intense fruit flavors and spicy notes, making it an excellent choice for grilled or charred meats.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: This classic red wine is known for its bold flavors and high tannin content, which makes it the perfect match for rich cuts of beef like flank steak.
- Merlot: A softer alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot has lower tannins but still offers plenty of flavor and body that complements the bold steak flavor.
- Syrah/Shiraz: This full-bodied red wine has a complex flavor profile that includes dark fruits, black pepper, and smoky notes – all characteristics that pair exceptionally well with grilled or roasted meats.
When selecting your bottle of wine to pair with your flank steak dinner, keep these tips in mind:
- Consider the preparation method: If you’re grilling your flank steak over an open flame or on a charcoal grill, consider pairing it with a full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah/Shiraz as they can stand up to the bold flavors imparted by grilling.
- Match intensity levels: As a general rule of thumb when pairing food and wine – the intensity level should match; meaning lighter dishes call for lighter wines while heavier foods need fuller-bodied wines.
- Experiment!: Everyone’s taste buds are different so don’t be afraid to experiment! Try out different pairings until you find one that suits your tastes best! We’re also not above an ice-cold mezcal margarita when serving flank steak as tacos.
Flank Steak FAQs
Flank and skirt can be used almost interchangeably but are two different cuts. Flank comes from the flank, and the skirt steak comes from the diagram muscles. Flank is a thicker, leaner steak, and skirt has a looser grain and is a thinner, longer cut.
A few great substitutes for this cut of steak are:
Santa Fe Steak
We don’t always marinate our flank, but it does help to improve the overall texture and flavor of the meat. Marinating not only tenderizes the cut but can amp up the flavor.
The cooking time for can vary depending on the thickness of the steak and the cooking method being used.
Here are some general guidelines:
Medium-rare (130-135°F): 4-6 minutes per side
Medium (140-145°F): 6-8 minutes per side
We always recommend using a digital meat thermometer for the most accurate internal temperature.
Flank Steak via Beef It’s What’s for Dinner https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/cuts/cut/2458/flank-steak
Skirt steak Vs. Flank Steak: How the Two Cuts Compare via Masterclass https://www.masterclass.com/articles/skirt-steak-vs-flank-steak-explained
The Handy Guide to Wine and Steak Pairing via Wine Folly https://winefolly.com/wine-pairing/the-handy-guide-to-wine-and-steak-pairing/