Flank steak has the potential to be one of the tastiest cuts of meat you will ever eat. However, it is also a piece of meat that is very easy to cook badly, and if you do, you will find yourself eating a very chewy steak.
As you can most likely guess from its name flank steak comes from the flank of a cow, just below the part of a cow where the sirloin and loin cuts of beef come from. This is the abdominal muscle region that is important for the cows walking movements. Therefore it is used very often meaning it is a very lean muscle.
Flank steak has a few other names and we will just run you through a few of them now so that you aren't confused when you see flank steak referred to as something else.
Another common name for flank steak is London broil, you will potentially see it referred to like this in a shop or restaurant. However, be careful as London broil is also a name for a top round.
Jiffy steak and flank steak fillet are two lesser-used names for flank steak. Also, if you are in a Spanish-speaking country or market then it will be called arrachera and in French, it is called bavette steak.
Your steak should be a darker red than other cuts of steak and there should be no discolouration on the surface as it could mean it has been exposed to air for too long.
Look for a cut with little to no fat, it is also important that you can see the long strands of muscle running through the cut.
There are two ways you can cook a beef flank steak either fast on a hot grill or slowly by braising.
When using the fast method of cooking flank steak you want to put it on a grill above a scorching charcoal fire and cook for just a couple of minutes on each side. Do not cook it past medium-rare as it will become too chewy.
After cooking leave your steak for ten minutes before cutting into it. You want to be cutting the steak across the grain, so perpendicular to the muscle fibres. It is also important to slice it on the bias, so this means holding the knife at a 45-degree angle to the steak.
If you fancy, you can marinade before grilling which will give you a really tender and juicy steak. One of the major flank steak benefits is that it actually absorbs marinades very well due to its thin shape and the large surface area between all the muscle fibres.
Braising a flank steak is the best way to cook it so that it comes out tender. This is because it allows the connective tissues in the cut to be broken down.
If you have a thick cut of flank steak you are cooking you can either cut it up into smaller portions to cook. Or you can cut slices out of the cut and pound them which will make them more tender. Then you can make roulades out of them by rolling them up and adding a filling. Use a toothpick to hold them together.
For the braising process, you need to brown your cut in a skillet and then add a cooking liquid and leave it to simmer. This should take roughly 2 or 3 hours. Another strength of the braising method is that it allows you to create a really rich sauce with all the juices that leak from it.
We would advise that you avoid using flank steak in a stir fry as you will most likely find the meat will be too chewy.
You can't go wrong with a simple marinated grilled flank steak, although be sure to slice the steak before serving, unlike other steaks that you would just serve as one piece. Grilled flanks also work well in sandwiches.
You can be more creative with braised flank steak, we would personally recommend trying European-style roulades and Mexican flank steak fajitas.
If you, like many others, have been sticking to only having basic steaks like sirloins or ribeyes then please so try a flank steak, whether that be at a restaurant or at home! If it is done right it may just be one of the best steaks you will ever have.