Just when I thought I had all the tough, inexpensive cuts of beef figured out, up pops a new one. They are like fashion; butchers decide to change the cut, give the steak a new name and thoroughly confuse the consumer. If you wonder which one to buy, do what I do. Get whichever is on sale.
They are so similar that they can be used interchangeably. They are all tough cuts, because they come from the cow's working muscles. The skirt is the cow's diaphragm; the flank lies on the cow's belly close to the hind legs; and the flap lies in the belly just under the flank. The hanger gets its name because it hangs down between the tenderloin and rib.
Although each of these cuts is cursed with tough fibers, they are blessed with great flavor. In order to tenderize the meat, it should be soaked in an acidic marinade, like the one below, for from 12 to 24 hours. They then should be cooked rapidly over high heat by grilling, broiling, pan-frying or stir-frying.
The best cooking temperature
For best results, cook these tough cuts to medium-rare or medium, no more, no less. They all have a very coarse texture with a distinct grain running through them. Anywhere beyond medium and they get too rubbery to chew. Undercook them, on the other hand, and you get meat that is mushy and slippery. Use a thermometer, and cook it to the sweet spot between 125° and 130° degrees (this gives it some leeway to rise in temperature as it rests).
It is very important to slice these steaks against the grain. The best way to do this is to cut the steak into 4 to 6-inch long pieces This usually translates into cutting a 1 1/2 lb. steak in half. Then turn each piece 90 degrees and carve them into 1/3 to 1/2-inch thick slices perpendicular to the grain.
If you follow my directions, I promise you a delicious, flavorful, tender, juicy steak. I'll take it over a mild flavored filet any day. (Well, almost any day!).
Grilled Skirt (Flat Iron, Flank, Flap or Hangar) Steak With Balsamic & Rosemary
6 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ pounds skirt, flat iron, flank, flap or hanger steak
- In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, olive oil, balsamic, red wine, rosemary, salt and pepper.
- Place steak in a plastic bag, pour marinade over and toss to coat. Close bag tightly and refrigerate for from 12 to 24 hours, turning once.
- Heat coals or an oiled grill pan or skillet over high heat until hot. Cook steak for 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare. A thermometer inserted into the middle of the side of the meat should read 125 to 130 degrees. For best results, do not overcook or undercook. Remove to cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.
- Cut meat into 4 to 6-inch pieces. Turn each piece 90 degrees and slice against (perpendicular) across the grain into 1/3 to 1/2-inch thick slices.
Makes 4 servings.