When it comes to grilling or cooking beef, there are a lot of different cuts out there. Two common cuts that are often confused with each other are skirt steak and flank steak. While they may seem similar at first glance, they actually have some key differences that can affect how you cook and prepare them.
What is Skirt Steak?
Skirt steak comes from the plate area of the cow, which is located below the ribs and between the brisket and flank areas. It’s a long, flat cut that’s known for its rich, beefy flavor. Skirt steak is also known for its tough texture, which makes it a good candidate for marinating before cooking.
What is Flank Steak?
Flank steak comes from the abdominal area of the cow, specifically from the muscles that run along the side of the animal. It’s also a long, flat cut but has a thicker texture than skirt steak. It’s known for its bold flavor and is often used in dishes like fajitas and stir-fries.
The Differences Between Skirt Steak and Flank Steak
While both skirt steak and flank steak are long, flat cuts that come from different areas of the cow, there are some major differences between them:
Texture: Skirt steak has a looser texture than flank steak because it has more fat marbling throughout the meat. This makes it more tender when cooked correctly. Flank steak has less fat marbling throughout and can be tougher if overcooked.
Flavor: Both cuts have a strong beefy flavor, but skirt steak tends to be more rich and intense due to its higher fat content. Flank steak has a bolder flavor but can be slightly gamey if not prepared properly.
Cooking Method: Because of their different textures, skirt steak and flank steak require different cooking methods. Skirt steak is best cooked quickly over high heat, such as on a grill or in a hot skillet. Flank steak benefits from a longer cooking time over lower heat, such as in a slow cooker or oven.
How to Cook Skirt Steak and Flank Steak
Here are some tips for cooking each cut:
Skirt Steak: To cook skirt steak, marinate it for at least an hour to help tenderize the meat. Then, grill it over high heat for 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let it rest for a few minutes before slicing against the grain.
Flank Steak: To cook flank steak, season it with your desired spices and let it come to room temperature before cooking. Preheat your oven to 375°F and cook the steak for 25-30 minutes, or until it reaches your desired level of doneness (medium-rare is recommended). Let it rest before slicing against the grain.
- Tip: If you’re short on time, you can also broil flank steak on high for 6-8 minutes per side.
While both skirt steak and flank steak have their unique flavors and textures, they each require different cooking methods to get the best results. Whether you prefer the rich flavor of skirt steak or the bold taste of flank steak, knowing how to properly prepare and cook each cut will ensure that you end up with a delicious meal every time.