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Skirt and flank steak are two of the most flavorful cuts of meat. Both have a great beef flavor that is less intense than other cuts like ribeye, but still has plenty of rich taste. Skirt steak is often called the “poor man’s filet mignon” because it tastes similar to a tenderloin without being as expensive. Flank steak also has more fat marbling throughout which helps give it an awesome, juicy flavor.
Many people may ask, “Is flank steak the same as skirt steak?” when it comes to choosing an ingredient for their dishes, and the answer for this is No.
Although there are similarities between them and they can often be used interchangeably to make several dishes, you may also need to know how to differentiate them and choose skirt steak or flank steak for certain dishes to bring out the best from them.
Skirt Steak Or Flank Steak – Tips For Steak Lovers
Both flank steak and skirt steak are lean and made up of resilient muscle fibers, which means the toughness could make serving and eating them difficult.
Both of them are long beefy meat strips with odd-looking appearance, and they are great to be grilled. Besides, they should only be cooked rare or medium-rare. Otherwise, they can become unpleasantly chewy.
When cooking both of them, you need to make sure the grain is cut against. This process also helps you to separate fibers more easily.
Where Each Come From
Flank steak (or London Broil) is cut out from the cow’s bottom belly area, which is quite lean and has many tough muscles and resilient fibers along it. Compared to skirt steak, this cut is somewhat thicker and wider.
On the contrary, skirt steak (or Romanian tenderloin, Philadelphia steak) is thin, long, and contains diaphragm muscles, which are from the upper part of the cow’s abdominal area.
Difference In Meat Structure
One of the main differences between them lies in their grain structures, which will affect the way you prepare these cuts.
Since flank steak has fibers that are exceptionally clearly defined, you will find it easier to slice the grain. But, it may be difficult for flavors to fully penetrate a flank steak as its fibers are closer to each other.
On the other hand, skirt steak is a cut with darker color, longer and skinnier outlook, heavily marbled with connective tissue and fat as well as pronounced grain. The fibers of skirt steak are not as tightly knit as that of flank steak. Therefore, it responds well to flavors such as marinades.
Amount of Meat and Fat Content
In terms of meat content, flank steak is very meaty while skirts are moderately meaty. And, compared to skirt steak which generally has moderate to high fat, the amount of fat in flank steak is smaller. In a flank cut, the amount of fat is often half as much found on a skirt.
Skirt steak is a versatile, flavorful cut of beef.
Skirt steak is one of the most popular cuts in any kitchen because it’s so meaty and full-flavored while remaining tender enough to cook quickly on just about anything from an open flame grill or stovetop pan sear – perfect for getting dinner ready before everyone gets home at night!
Flank steaks go well with marinades, and it requires high heat and quick cooking. It can be seared, grilled, or stuffed.
Meanwhile, skirt steaks are ideal to be quickly cooked over high heat. It can also be braised or slow-cooked. A skirt will be a nice treat if cooked properly. You can sear a cut or give it a quick grill, slice it then, and you will have a lean and juicy beefsteak – a classic option for fajitas.
Preparation and Grill
- Place steak between two pieces of plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet, pound until even thickness is reached all around the steak. This will ensure that the steak cooks evenly and doesn’t dry out. The skirt steak should be about 1/2″ thick so it cooks in just a few minutes. Be careful not to tear or puncture through the plastic wrap with your meat mallet, use short strokes making sure you hit both sides of each area
- Lay the flattened steak on top of a piece of tin foil on a baking sheet (no need to grease) and season generously with salt pepper & smoked paprika
- Place tray in preheated oven for 7 minutes then flip over carefully with 2 spatulas and cook for another 7 minutes.
- Remove from oven, let rest for 5 minutes then slice thin against the grain to ensure it is tender and juicy (if you cut with the grain it will be tough)
Tips: Cut steak against the grain
Both of these cuts need to be cut in a specific way, even after they come off the grill. The best steak is one that has long thin strands throughout it and for this you’ll want to slice with the grain!
Skirt steak runs along its short side while flank goes across on its longer side so make sure you know which type of meat before cutting them up or else your dish will end up average at best instead of perfect as planned.
If you want to see the difference in tenderness for yourself, try slicing a small bite of flank steak parallel with or against the grain direction.
In general it’s easier to chew bites that are sliced across rather than along muscle fibers since these breaks up and soften tougher meat proteins.
Recipes for Each Type
- Marinated Steak
- Butter Lemon-Garlic Steak
- Honey Soy Steak
- Brazilian Beef & Garlic Butter
- Grilled Balsamic Steak
- Grilled Beef & Onion Marinade
- Grilled Beef & Mojo Marinade
Can I use skirt steak instead of flank steak?
If you do not have a flank steak, you can use skirt steak as a substitute with an equal amount. Another good alternative is the flat iron steak, which is easier for you to find.
Is skirt steak or flank steak better for fajitas?
As mentioned above, a skirt is often fattier and makes a good combination with marinades, which helps it be more tender. Therefore, it is considered better to make fajitas.
Which is more expensive? Flank steak or skirt steak?
Flank steak is among the cheapest cuts to buy. However, it is slightly more expensive than skirts since they are often the go-to type when it comes to serving in restaurants.
Which one is better to make Carne asada?
Carne asada is traditionally made using skirt steak or flank steak. The two cuts are very similar and can be used interchangeably.
Which one is easier to prepare?
Neither of them is especially easier to cook. It requires barely any trimming. You just need to put both types of them on the flames for several minutes. However, some say that skirt steak is a bit easier to prepare since it is thin and quite even. Give each side of it two minutes, and you are done.
Where can I buy them?
Both of these types of cuts are somewhat special, so they may not be available at your local supermarkets. You can contact your butcher or get them delivered by an online butcher.
Although both of these cut types do not have considerable differences, being able to differentiate them is important if you want to bring out your dish’s best flavor. I hope this article can help you know to choose skirt steak or flank steak for each recipe. Thank you for reading! Brooklyn Grill