All About Flank Steak + Tips for Cooking Flank Steak to Perfection

grilled flank steakWe’ve finally made it to the official grilling season, but when you love steak as much as we do, grilling season is all year-round. Thanks to some delicious steak cuts from Chicago Steak Company, you can enjoy the taste of summer whenever you want by grilling up your favorites. One type of steak that gets little attention for the grill is flank steak. This incredibly under-recognized cut is not only great for grilling for numerous types of meals, but it’s also one of the most versatile steaks out there. If you haven’t tried it yet, you may want to start.

What is Flank Steak?

Other names for flank steak include London broil and skirt steak, which is actually a different cut (more on that in a moment). This cut of steak comes from the abdominal muscles of the animal, right behind its chest. As you’d expect from that muscle-y area, the meat can be somewhat chewier than other steaks. But, when cooked correctly, it’s not tough. It remains tender. And, because the area from which it’s cut gets a lot of blood flow, you get some amazing beef flavor that’s incomparable to other cuts.

Skirt Steak vs Flank Steak

Although it’s commonly referred to as skirt steak, beef flank steak is not the same. Skirt steak can be substituted in place of flank steak, and vice versa, though. Skirt steak is shaped much the same, but tends to have a beefier flavor. But, this cut comes from the diaphragm muscles of the animal, making it a tougher piece of meat. It can become very chewy quickly, especially if it’s not cooked correctly. You can, however, cook both types of meat with generally the same methods. They love marinades and high-heat, quick cooking.

Cost

Flank steak is generally one of the least expensive cuts to purchase. Again, this is probably because it’s so thin that people tend to overlook it as a quality steak. But, that can be a good thing to keep prices down. Once people realize just how much they can do to cook this cut – and even reuse leftover flank steak! – it may not be as underutilized. Compared to skirt steak, flanks are usually a bit more expensive because they’re usually the go-to cut for restaurants to use for fajitas. The top cost of this steak is usually no more than $11 per pound.

Cooking Methods

One of the best things about flanks is that it can be cooked in so many ways. It’s by far one of the most versatile pieces of steak you can buy, and it tastes great no matter which way you choose.

One of the most common uses for the cut is flank steak fajitas. The thin cut is the perfect size for fajita steak and its chewier texture couldn’t be more perfect. Similarly, flanks make an awesome beef taco. Place some strips in a taco shell instead of the usual ground beef for a steak taco. Or, if you’ve never tried a salad with steak, try a flank steak salad. Some thin slices of the meat mixed with your favorite salad toppings is a perfectly healthy way to enjoy it.

So, just how can you cook this incredible piece of beef to create these yummy dishes? We’re glad you asked. Most people who cook using flanks prefer to marinate them first, regardless of the cooking method. The salt and acidity of a marinade can help tenderize the meat in addition to providing extra flavor. It’s not a necessity, but we do recommend it. If you want to marinate your flanks, do so for only a couple of hours, as an overnight marinade may begin to scorch the thin cuts.

Grilling Flank Steak

Marinating is definitely suggested if you plan to grill your steaks. This helps ensure that they don’t become tough and rubbery on the hot flames of the grill. Since flanks are very thin, it can only take mere seconds to cook them beyond the point of no return. Marinate it in your favorite teriyaki, barbecue, or other perfect grilling sauce for two hours. Then, place the meat directly over medium flames for about three minutes. Flip to the other side for another three minutes, and your steaks should be ready to go.

Slow Cooking

Slow cooking is a great way to cook your flanks for several dishes, like slow cooker flank steak tacos, steaks in gravy, Mongolian beef, and more. Slow cooking makes the beef much more tender than other methods. Usually, you need a solid six to eight hours of cook time on low heat for your steaks to reach a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Cooking Flank Steak on the Stove

If you want to cook flank steaks on the stove, you should opt for a cast-iron skillet to do the job, since it can handle higher temperatures. These steaks do best when cooking over high heat for a short period of time to give them the perfect texture and taste. Spray the pan with some cooking spray and cook on each side for about four minutes each. The optimal temperature is, again, a medium rare so your meat doesn’t end up too chewy.

Oven Cooking

If you’re wondering what’s the best way to cook flank steak in the oven, you’ll be happy to know that there’s one tried and true method that literally takes only a few minutes of your time to churn out great-tasting meat. Before you place the steaks in the oven, coat them with a mixture of olive oil and your desired spices to keep them from drying out in the oven. Then, it’s as simple as placing the steaks on a pan, cooking them on high heat (about 450 degrees) on one side for about five minutes, and then on the other side for three to four minutes or until medium rare. Allow resting for about 10 minutes before serving.

Is Broiling an Option?

Yes! In fact, some people prefer broiling flank steak over other methods. Broiling helps cook the steaks much like grilling would, which helps create crispiness around the edges without overcooking it. The trick is to only cook for about 5 minutes on each side to medium rare. Any further and you’ll risk overdoing it, turning your beloved flanks into hockey pucks. Allow resting for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Conclusion:  The Ins and Outs of Cooking with Flank Steak

We’ve explained how to cook flank steak, and it couldn’t be much simpler, right? Here at Steak University, we hope you start thinking of these steaks as a must for your menu. Not only are they a breeze to cook, but there are so many ways to prepare them. Start experimenting with new grill, oven, pan, and slow cooker recipes to see what you can come up with for these incredible cuts!