There are various types of beef cuts that you can work with when it comes to grilling or smoking. Flank steak and skirt steak are both long, strange-looking cuts of steak. They are tough beef strips of meat that are best consumed straight off the grill. In most recipes, they are often used interchangeably.
However, deciding between flank steak and skirt steak can be confusing because both steaks look similar. The two serve well when looking for a quick-cooking, tasty cut of beef to prepare food. Although both are often used interchangeably, they have some differences that affect their preparation.
What is Flank Steak?
Flank steak is a thick and wide cut of beef from the flank section of a steer. It is very meaty and has a low-fat content. The cut comes from an abdominal muscle. Flank is super lean on its own, but the key to a tender flank is to slice it super thin. It usually has a well-defined grain structure and an intense beefy flavor.
It also goes by a few other names such as Babette steak, London broil, jiffy steak. The average cut of flank steak weighs around 2 pounds. Flat steak can be tough to chew, and it’s best made from quick cooking over high heat.
But it is best cooked medium or medium-rare to prevent it from becoming too dry and tough. Nevertheless, it can be rolled, stuffed, roasted, and broiled. Searing is practically the best cooking method for flank steak.
Flank Steak recipes
How to Cook Flank Steak – Cooking Flank Steak -The Frugal Chef
What is Skirt Steak?
Skirt steak is a long and thin meat cut that comes from steer diaphragm muscle. It is lean and contains a lot of tough fibers. Skirt steak cuts have a generous amount of fat in them.
Skirt steak has a stronger beefy flavor that can make a delicious meal when adequately prepared. With its tough composition, it is cooked only as rare or medium-rare. Skirt steak can be either made in ‘inside skirt’ or ‘outside skirt.’.’
The outside skirt is a bit thicker than the inside and tends to have a more consistent shape. On the other hand, the inside is thinner and will often shrink as it is being cooked. The muscle fibers also tighten.
Skirt steak is best seared or grilled, which makes it great for stir fry. It also needs to be cut against the grain to pull apart its tough fibers when served.
Skirt Steak recipes
- Straccetti con Rucola e Funghi
- Grilled Balsamic Skirt Steak
- Brazilian Skirt Steak with Golden Garlic Butter
- Korean Bulgogi-Style Grilled Steak
How to Cook Skirt Steak (4 Quick Steps)
Similarities Between Flank Steak and Skirt Steak
When comparing both skirt steak and flank steak to each other, they share some things in common. These are some of the similar properties between the two;
Both skirt steak and flank steak are relatively inflexible and lean cuts. It makes it the best-served in medium-rare or medium heat to help keep the results tender and ideal in texture. Overcooking these steak cuts will result in an extremely tough and chewy dinner.
Compared to other beef cuts, both steaks have a solid beefy flavor. You will get more intense beef flavors with a skirt steak or flank steak cut.
These steaks both respond very well to marinades, which helps to flavor the food and tenderize it.
They both have tough muscle fibers, which makes them best for searing and grilling quickly over high heat. Searing the steaks with high heat for a crispy outer layer while keeping the inside medium-rare to medium is excellent.
Both flank and skirt steak are long, flat cuts of steak from a cow’s body. Flank and skirt steak meat benefit from being cut thinly against the grain, which gives maximum tenderness. It helps detach the tough grains and makes them easier to chew.
The two are active muscles that do a lot of work during the lifespan of a cow. Skirt and flank steak cuts contain less fat than more common beef cuts like tenderloin.
Both cuts are affordable compared to other steaks.
Differences Between Flank Steak and Skirt Steak
Although these cuts are similar to each other in some ways, still there are some distinct differences between skirt steak and flank steak;
A significant thing that sets these two cuts apart is the structure of their grain. Flank steak has fibers that are clearly defined, which make the slicing of the grain easier. The threads of flank steak are a bit close together, making it hard for flavors to fully penetrate the meat.
While skirt steak boasts a well-defined fiber and grain structure, the grains are not as tightly knit. Skirt steak has a richer taste and can be slow-cooked than flank steak. Unlike a flank steak, skirt steak meat is better for marinades.
Comparatively, flank steak is broader and thicker than skirt steak. It is usually sold as one entire muscle, which can practically weigh up to 2 pounds. Flank steak cut comes from the bottom abdominal area of the cow.
In contrast, Skirt steak is thinner than flank steak, making it a little easier to use. Skirt steak comes from the diaphragm muscle of the cow. So also, skirt steak has a more intense flavor than flank steak.
Cutting the Steak Against the Grain
Cutting flank and steak meat against the grain is essential to remember when served to eat. The grains are the long strands of tough fibers that run through the meat. Flank steak grain runs with the long side of the cut, while Skirt steak grain runs with the short side of the cut.
When you slice the steak against the grain, it helps keep the meat tender and makes it easier to eat. Although, proper preparation doesn’t end after the steak comes off of the grill. However, cutting against the grain, the muscle fibers get broken up, making the steak bites easy to chew.
Cutting Against the Grain – Why & How?
Grilling Flank Steak and Skirt Steak
Since both flank and skirt steak are tough, it is best enjoyed on rare or medium-rare heat and seared. Even though the steaks are thinly sliced and flat, the flesh can’t be penetrated easily, so indirect grilling like BBQ tricks will not work.
Skirt steak is thinner; it needs just 3 minutes on each side to grill. In comparison, flank steak needs like 5 minutes on both sides to grill. When grilling both flank and skirt steak, the internal temperature should be 130 degrees F. Then, Sear it to have beautiful marks on the sides of the meat.
The Art of Grilling: How to Grill Flank Steak
Conclusion:- Which of the two Steaks is the Best?
So, when it comes to choosing between flank and skirt, it all lies on your preferred cooking method and how intense you want the flavor. Both steaks are great for grilling.
Thus, because flank steak is a bigger cut of meat, it feeds more people, making some people prefer it over skirt steak. As far as which is best? It all depends on your preferred choice, and both are fantastic cuts.