Take a walk through the meat department at your grocery store and look at the beef cuts available. You expect to pay more for the more tender, leaner meat: tenderloin (filet mignon), sirloin, the in-between (T-bone/porterhouse). Pick up a pack of sirloin steaks and compare the price with steaks cut from the flank or skirt. Do yourself a favor and try not to drop anything, because they are probably the same. Actually, you might find the sirloin strip steaks priced cheaper than the tougher flank steak.
Why? Because flank steaks are trendy. Think of them as the summertime version of short ribs. Restaurants can get these cuts cheap, marinate them and attain a big markup on dishes like carne asada or fajitas. The kicker is that flank and skirt steak come from the underbelly of the cow, supporting the weight of the animal and undergoing quite a bit of stress and strain. Flank, plate and shoulder cuts get worked a lot, meaning that the muscles get a workout. And, strong muscles mean tougher, sinewy meat.
While flank and skirt prices go up, flap steak remains affordable. Called bavette by the French and sirloin tips in New England, flap steak is the new cheap cut. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
An extension of the T-bone and Porterhouse steaks, flap meat is officially part of the short loin section, explains Bob Fanucchi, known as Butcher Bob by his students at San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy. “It’s actually in the belly of the animal,” he says. “You remove the flank, take the layers of fat off and the meat is called flap meat.”
Continue reading Monday dinner: Mojo flap steak with salsa verde