There is a wide variety of beef cuts that you can grill, but there are two cuts that often need clarification: skirt steak and flank steak. How can you learn to recognize these two cuts of beef?
What is skirt steak?
The skirt steak is a thin cut from the beef diaphragm. This cut is extracted from the muscles inside the animal's abdomen, known as a skirt. The skirt steak comes from the area below the ribs.
It is a cut with a lot of fat attached to the lean part. Its flavor is very tender and meaty, but its preparation is somewhat tricky because a series of recommendations must be followed so that the stew is exquisite.
Characteristics of the flank steak
The flank steak has the particularity of being much thicker, broader, and flatter than the skirt steak. This cut is often confused with the skirt steak because they are extracted from practically the same area, that is, from the animal's diaphragm. Its flavor is much more intense than the skirt steak, but it is just as meaty.
Skirt steak vs. flank steak: similarities
Both cuts come from the same area. Therefore, they have similarities. For example, they are pretty tough cuts of meat, so they need a particular prior marinade to make them lose their hardness and get soft after cooking; this is because, as both are taken from the diaphragm of the animal, they have quite a few fibers that need to be broken or softened before putting the meat on the grill.
Its flavor is robust and consistent. The best thing is that, if adequately marinated, you can intensify that flavor if careful and consider this particularity for either of the cuts.
Because of this particularity, both skirt steak and flank steak are used in countless recipes and can even be used to prepare marinades! The marinade is a recipe that not only allows the meat to have a much more intense and delicious flavor but also helps to tenderize the cut.
On the other hand, the preparation is usually quite similar: best over high heat or at very high temperatures. With this technique, the skirt and flank steak will get a crispy outer layer and a soft texture inside. Be careful because the meat will be very tough and challenging to chew if they are overcooked.
Another particularity that flank and skirt steak share is that they have a thick, visible grain that will allow you to cut the meat. To make the cuts and eat, you must do it against the grain. It will be much easier!
Differences between skirt steak and flank steak
After listing the particularities of both cuts, it would seem that they are practically the same, but they have some differences that you should consider when buying meat. In addition to shape and size, there are other ways to identify what you are buying.
The skirt steak is much fattier than the flank steak; thanks to this particularity, the skirt steak is much more tender when cooking and eating and requires less cooking time than the flank steak. It is much easier to prepare! Although it requires a long marinating time, you will not need as many hours as with the flank steak. When preparing skirt steak, the high temperatures allow the muscle fibers to break down independently.
Flank steak has the quality of being much thicker than skirt steak, which cooks much faster because it is thinner. But thanks to its thickness, flank steak has a much more intense flavor than skirt steak, as long as it is prepared correctly and without overdoing it with the marinade. For the meat to be exquisite, you must be attentive to what you marinate it with and how long you leave it to rest in the mix with the chosen ingredients.
Tips for preparing skirt steak vs. flank steak
To delight the most demanding diners with these cuts, you must know how to prepare them correctly. The first thing to do is to remove the meat from the refrigerator so that it is at room temperature before cooking, and the best way to cook this meat is on the grill or the coals! Use high heat so that the flavor is much better.
To marinate a skirt steak, you will only need an hour or two at most, but flank steak requires you to leave it overnight. The marinating time, however, depends a lot on the recipe you will prepare: check very well before you get down to work.
And, of course, always cut against the grain of the meat, the results will be much better, and the meat will be more tender!