Beef flank is a popular cut of meat because of its low cost and flavour possibilities. It takes some coaxing and marinating to bring out its best but, with a little work, this inexpensive cut can turn into the mouth-watering centrepiece of any meal. Flank steak is used often in Mexican, Asian and South Asian cuisine, in meals such as carne asada tacos, fajitas and beef curry.
The edible part of the cow is divided into multiple regions. The flank region is low and towards the hind legs, below the sirloin and ribs. This area is well exercised and the muscle fibres can be tough to chew if the steak is not cooked properly. The cuts of meat that come from the flank area are skirt steak as well as flank steak.
Availability and Cost
Flank steak is widely available at butcher counters or in the meat department of the grocery store. Flank is an affordable cut because of the tough fibres. Some butchers sell pre-marinated beef flank. These cost more but save you the time required to tenderise the steak. Marinated steak can be taken home and cooked immediately.
With preparation, flank steak can be delicate and tender. The steak is thin and shouldn't require much chewing. Thin beef flank also has a greater surface area than larger cuts of meat. This greater surface area takes on the flavour of a marinade or meat rub and a marinade will soften the connective tissues. Try a lime-based marinade for your flank steak; the acidity in citrus quickly softens the meat. Don't let your flank steak marinate longer than 24 hours as it can break down the meat to a mushy consistency.
Flank steak often comes with a strip of connective tissue over one side. This strip should be removed before cooking. The flank can be cooked in the grill, on the hob or grilled. It should be watched closely, as it cooks quickly and burns easily. When cutting a flank steak, cut thin pieces against the grain. Flank steak should not be substituted for other cuts of meat since the cooking time is so much shorter than for other cuts.