Beef sales are on the rise. In 2020, sales of beef in the US grew to a staggering $30.3 billion!
Ask Americans about their favourite cuts of meat and you’ll hear answers like rib eye, fillet, and New York strip. But if you grill it right, the humble flank steak can compete with the very best.
Let’s take a closer look at the best way to grill flank steak.
What Is Flank Steak?
Flank steak comes from the abdominal area of the cow, behind the plate. It is called “bavette” in France and is sometimes called London Broil in the United States. While it’s a flavorful cut, it’s one that’s sometimes misunderstood.
If you cook flank steak the wrong way, you can end up with a very tough, dry piece of meat. That’s down to two factors.
Firstly, it has distinctive long strands of muscle. Secondly, it has very little fat. Most of the surface fat is discarded during the trimming process, and it has very little if any marbling.
That’s why an overcooked flank steak cut along the grain is a really unpleasant thing to eat. But on the other hand, a well-cooked flank steak, cut at the correct angle, is a thing of culinary beauty.
Skirt steak is a close cousin of flank steak. Skirt steak comes from the diaphragm muscle of the cow which is right next to the flank. Read more now about the flank steak versus skirt steak battle!
What Is Flank Steak Used For?
In the US, flank steak is most famous as the steak used in fajitas. This is an excellent use of flank steak, for several reasons.
Flank steak responds very well to marinating and fast cooking. Cut it across the grain into thin strips, and it will provide just the right level of chew and tenderness for perfect fajitas. Its beefy flavor is also the perfect foil for fajita spices and condiments.
Over in France, they love nothing better than a grilled flank (or “bavette”) steak. The classic bistro dish bavette à l’échalotte is a simple dish of flank steak with a sauce made from shallots and red wine. What’s not to love!
Flank steak is also popular in a number of Asian-inspired dishes. You can marinate it and then grill it with teriyaki sauce for a Japanese twist. Flank steak is also considered one of the best cuts to add to a steaming bowl of Vietnamese pho.
The Best Way to Grill Flank Steak
We’ll let you in on a little secret. You can’t just throw a flank steak into a skillet and hope for the best. It won’t reward you with a great steak, and here’s why.
Flank steak is thinner at one end than the other. You need to take that into account because it will affect cooking times. Flank steaks are also really long, which can make them unwieldy in a regular-sized skillet.
When thinking about how to cook flank steak, you have two distinct options – low and slow, or fast and furious. One lends itself best to indoor cooking and the other to outdoor cooking.
Cooking Flank Steak Indoors
When you’re cooking flank steak indoors, get around the issues we mentioned by cutting the steaks in half.
The best way to grill them is using the reverse sear method. That means that we’re going to start the cooking process in the oven and finish it on the grill or in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop.
Preheat your oven to 225°F. Cut the steaks in half and pat them dry with a paper towel. Liberally season them with salt and pepper.
Set the steaks on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and put them in the oven for 30 minutes. They’re ready when they register 120°F on an instant-read thermometer.
Heat a little oil in a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. When hot, grill your steaks. Turn them every minute until a deep crust has formed. Let them rest for ten minutes before cutting them into thin slices, across the grain.
You might be wondering, why do we need to keep flipping the steaks? It’s because of those characteristic long muscle fibers. If they stay too long on one side, they’ll start to curl and brown unevenly.
This method will produce beautifully tender, perfectly cooked flank steaks that will look great and melt in your mouth.
Cooking Flank Steaks on a Grill
Cooking flank steak on the grill is a much faster way to achieve perfectly cooked flank steaks. Rather than low and slow, we’re going to use a hot and fast method.
Marinate your flank steak according to your recipe. Poking holes into the steak with the tines of a fork can help the flavor penetrate.
Clean your grill, heat it to medium-high, and quickly run some paper towel dipped in oil over the grill using tongs. Lay your steaks on the grill and let them grill for 5 minutes on each side. Do not move them until it’s time to flip them.
With thin steaks like flank, the best way to tell if they’re done is to cut them open and take a peek. You should aim for medium-rare for maximum tenderness. Let the steak rest for ten minutes before cutting it against the grain.
A Word on Cutting Flank Steak
When you look at a flank steak, it’s very obvious which way the grain runs. Cutting against the grain is vital to achieving tender strips of steak.
Also, unlike other steaks, it’s traditional for the chef to slice a flank steak before serving. This ensures that it is cut correctly, and every piece is succulent and tender.
Who’s Hungry? Time for Flank Steak!
The best way to grill flank steak is either reverse sear or outdoors on a hot grill! The result, either way, will be a delicious, tender cut of beef. Perfect for traditional steak dinners or for adventurous Mexican and far-eastern flavors!
Are you always looking to pick up new skills and impress friends and family with your technical know-how? Head on over to our How To section. We’ve got lots more handy guides to up your kitchen game, and much, much more!