What’s flank steak and what do I do with it?
Today’s blog is a bit of a different style. I’ll still be sharing a recipe with you fine folk, but this blog is going to focus more on the cut: flank steak.
Ever cooked with flank steak before? Or maybe you haven’t even heard of it? Well let me tell you, you’re in for a treat.
Let’s start with some background: what is flank steak? Flank steak doesn’t come from one of the more common parts of the carcass – it’s almost like a bonus cut. It isn’t the most well-known cut but boy does it deliver. It has a deep beefy flavor and can be grilled, pan fried or cooked in the oven. It looks a lot different than your typical steak because it is a whole muscle. Most steaks come from a much larger muscle and are cut to serving size. The flank is one small muscle so it is left whole. Flank steaks can be hard to come by because there are only two in an entire carcass! Flank steak looks like this:
Have you ever seen a more gorgeous cut of beef?! Seriously, that’s drool-worthy right there. Plus, our flank steak currently retails at $14/lb, making this one of the best value cuts out there. You can see that it’s a long, fairly thin cut. Because of this, it is rolled up when it’s cut and wrapped to take up less space – so if you’re wondering what kind of steak looks like a cylinder when you get it, don’t worry it’s just rolled!
So now that we know what flank steak is, what the heck do we do with it? You can definitely grill it, and it works great as a share plate – but I mean if you want to tackle one of these all on your own, we won’t judge either. Most of our flank steaks are around the 1.5lb mark so if you can power through that by yourself, respect.
Some key things to remember about flank steak is that it’s a very lean cut, so it can be less forgiving when cooking it than cuts with more marbling. What that means is that you don’t want to cook it past medium or medium rare and YOU MUST LET IT REST! If you don’t believe me in how important it is to let the meat rest, it’s pretty easy to conduct your own experiment and taste the difference. I know this because I accidentally did it one time when I was too impatient and too hungry, but the difference between what I ate first and what I ate ten minutes later was night and day! Waaaay more tender and juicy after resting. So if you don’t let it rest and then you think it’s dry, don’t say I didn’t warn you. And, don’t forget – always, always, ALWAYS slice against the grain. It’s pretty easy to tell which way the grain is going since it is so loose and coarse, and it pretty much always runs lengthwise through the steak. Cutting across the grain means you are cutting the muscle fibres into small pieces making the bite of steak more tender. This is especially important for cuts like flank that are tougher than high end filet mignon. A marinade also helps to tenderize budget cuts of steak! Here's my favourite marinade for pretty much any cut of beef.
There are also some really amazing looking recipes for stuffed flank steak. I haven’t been adventurous enough to try one of those yet, but it’s on my list. If you beat me to it please let me know how it turned out for you!
Now here’s a couple things I love flank steak for most. It is awesome in taco salad! Usually I do the fast and easy route on taco salad and just go with ground beef, but make it with steak instead? Absolute game changer. When I put it in taco salad I take the lazy route and just grill it, then toss it with taco seasoning, but you can definitely marinate it beforehand for some extra flavor.
The recipe we’re gonna share today is for sheet pan fajitas with flank steak. Now you all know how big a fan I am of any recipe that minimizes dishes, and this is another one of those! Double points for being easy and delicious.
Now, obviously we’re gonna start with a flank steak. I really like my steak to be packed with flavor, so sometimes I season it lightly with some mild salt based steak seasoning a day or two before. Just remember, if you do this make sure to cut back on the salt in the fajita seasoning.
Preheat the oven to 450. Mix together all the spices in a bowl. Divide the spice mixture in half, then add a tablespoon of oil, the lime juice and soy sauce to one half. Slather this on the steak and set aside.
While the steak is marinating, slice the peppers and onions. Put them on a cookie sheet and toss with oil and the remaining seasoning mixture. Arrange the peppers and onions around the edge of the cookie sheet and place the steak in the middle of the sheet.
Bake for 12-14 minutes until the steak reads about 135-140, then broil for additional two. Remove from the oven and LET IT REST FOR 10 MINUTES. Slice against the grain, and serve with your favourite fajita toppings.
If you've never tried this cut before, I hope this post inspires you to give it a shot! Enjoy!