Skirt and flank steaks have both become more popular in recent years. Previously, they were almost unknown and were more likely to wind up being used for ground beef or being eaten by the butcher. Only recently have they begun to show up on restaurant menus thanks to celebrity chefs making people aware of their existence.
These two steaks have similarities in that they have coarse muscle fibers and are typically tough unless the right methods are used to cook them. Both should be cooked to rare over a high heat. If they are cooked past rare, they become extremely chewy. Both of these steaks should be cut across the grain when you are serving them. This will maximize their tenderness. What’s more to tell between these two cuts? Let’s explore in another BBQ Showdown.
What is the difference between skirt steak and flank steak?
Skirt steak is the tougher of these two cuts. Its muscle fibers are coarser and looser than those of flank steak. It is also a longer, flatter cut of meat. Skirt steaks have more fat than flank steaks and are thus more flavorful.
Flank steaks are leaner, wider and thicker than skirt steaks but are not typically as flavorful.
While both types of steaks marinate well, skirt steaks marinate better because of the looser muscle fibers. It is able to absorb more of the marinade.
Where on the cow do skirt steaks and flank steaks come from?
Skirt steaks come from the cow’s diaphragm muscles. The location on the cow is below the ribs and within the chest cavity. Note that skirt steaks are actually made up of two different muscle fibers: the outside skirt and the inside skirt.
Flank steaks come from the underside of the cow between the ribs and the hip. This area does a lot of work, which is why flank steaks are typically tough.
Which is best for grilling, skirt steak or flank steak?
Both steaks are great grilled over high heat; however, flank steak is slightly easier to cook using this method for a couple of reasons:
1. The lower fat content means fewer flare-ups when grilling over charcoal.
2. The fact that it is thicker means that you have more leeway when it comes to cooking it rare. With a skirt steak, a few seconds can make the difference between tender and tough.
Grilled skirt steak is not without its selling points as the fat content gives it a richer taste and a more unctuous mouth feel. The extra vaporized fat when it is cooked over charcoal can also give it additional flavor.
Which is more expensive, skirt steak or flank steak?
Skirt steak is usually the least expensive of the two, according to the US Department of Agriculture National Retail Report, with a dollar per pound difference often the case.
When is skirt steak a better choice than flank and when is flank the better choice?
If you plan to make fajitas, skirt steak is the traditional cut for that dish. It is also good if you are making a stir-fry dish. In addition, you can braise skirt steaks to make them more tender.
Flank steaks can be used to make fajitas, but are not quite as good for that purpose as skirt steaks. The lack of fat means that its flavors are not as strong and may be hidden by those of the toppings. Flank steaks are great for Philly-style cheesesteaks and for broiling.