If you’re a fan of Latin American cuisine, you’ve likely heard of churrasco. This dish is a popular and flavorful way to prepare beef that originated in Argentina, but is now enjoyed throughout the world.

Churrasco typically calls for a specific cut of meat known as skirt steak, but can you use flank steak as an alternative? Let’s explore.

What is Churrasco?

Churrasco is a traditional Latin American dish that typically features grilled beef served with chimichurri sauce, a bright and herbaceous condiment made with parsley, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil. The term “churrasco” actually refers to the grilling technique used to prepare the meat – it involves cooking the beef over high heat until it’s charred on the outside and juicy on the inside.

The Role of Skirt Steak in Churrasco

Skirt steak is often considered the ideal cut of beef for churrasco due to its unique texture and flavor. This cut comes from the diaphragm muscle of the cow and features long muscle fibers that run parallel to each other. When cooked properly, skirt steak can be incredibly tender and juicy.

Can Flank Steak Be Used Instead?

While skirt steak is ideal for churrasco, flank steak can be used as an alternative if necessary. Flank steak comes from the abdominal muscles of the cow and features long, tough fibers that run perpendicular to each other. Because of this texture, flank steak can be less tender than skirt steak when cooked using traditional churrasco methods.

However, there are ways to make flank steak work for churrasco. One method involves slicing the meat thinly against the grain before cooking it quickly over high heat. This technique helps break down some of the tougher muscle fibers in flank steak and results in a more tender finished product.

Preparing Flank Steak for Churrasco

If you’re using flank steak for churrasco, it’s important to prepare the meat properly to ensure the best flavor and texture. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Marinate the meat: A flavorful marinade can help tenderize flank steak and infuse it with additional flavor. Try using a mixture of olive oil, garlic, lime juice, and herbs like oregano or cilantro.
  • Slice the meat thinly: As mentioned earlier, slicing the meat thinly against the grain can help break down some of the tougher fibers in flank steak.
  • Cook quickly over high heat: Churrasco is traditionally cooked over high heat for a short amount of time. You can achieve similar results with flank steak by cooking it quickly over a hot grill or in a cast-iron skillet.
  • Let it rest: After cooking, let the meat rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute and settle.

In Conclusion

While skirt steak is considered the ideal cut of beef for churrasco, flank steak can be used as an alternative if necessary. By slicing it thinly against the grain and cooking it quickly over high heat, you can achieve similar results to traditional churrasco. Just be sure to marinate the meat beforehand and let it rest after cooking for optimal flavor and texture.