Flank steak is a less expensive cut of beef that has become increasingly popular in the United States over the past few decades. Its popularity has resulted in an increase in price, but this cut of steak is still generally much cheaper than cuts from the rib or loin area. Flank steaks are a versatile and lean cut of beef often used in both Chinese and French cuisine as well as for grilling.
A flank steak is a beef steak cut from the belly muscles, or flanks, of a cow. The flank steak is thin and flat. Lean, with very little fat or connective tissue membrane, this cut of steak is fairly easy to prepare. Because the flank muscles are highly exercised in a cow, the flank steak can be tougher than many other cuts of meat. Marinating flank steak is an easy way to help tenderise the meat and keep it moist.
Flank steak is generally a thin, flat steak that is a bright red colour. There are several different cuts of flank steak. London broil is one of the more popular and usually has a thicker cut. Thin-cut flank steaks are also available, and most beef sold for stir-frying are strips of flank steak. The French call flank steak Bavette, and in Mexico it is called arrachera and is used for fajitas.
Flank steak is usually marinated, to break down the tough tissues, before cooking. It can then be grilled, broiled or braised. Flank steak also makes great stir-fry or fajitas as the meat is tender when cut across the grain. Any flank steak is best served no more than medium-rare as the more it cooks, the tougher it gets. There are numerous recipes available for using this cut of meat in different ways. The most important considerations when cooking a flank steak are using a marinade and not overcooking it.
Buying and Storing Tips
When buying a flank steak, it is important to pick a steak that has a bright red colour or, if vacuum sealed, a purplish red colour. The packaging should be intact, and the beef should feel firm to the touch. Flank steak should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator and can be stored in airproof packaging for two to three days. It can be frozen for up to two weeks in its original packaging or in freezer bags for six to 12 months.
Tips for Cooking
The best marinades include some form of acid such as lemon juice, vinegar, wine or tomato-based marinades. When serving the flank steak, it should be cut in thin strips, across the grain. This results in tender bites of meat with lots of flavour. Many commercial meat tenderising powders can be added as well, usually during the marinating process. It is recommended to marinate the steak for at least several hours and preferably overnight before cooking is suggest.