Many people who are not so meticulous with what they eat would surely say that the skirt and flank are the same. But when asked about the flank vs skirt steak, the experts would surely remark that there are significant differences between the two. They would further say that the differences lie in the shape, grain structure, and fat content of each of these two steaks. Moreover, they would say that each type of steaks cooks up differently.
Similarities Between Skirt and Flank
The main similarities of the skirt and flank, aside from being both parts of the steer, lies in the fact that both cuts come from the same abdominal area of the beef. The flank, for example, comes from the Flank section and is generally sold as whole muscle. It weighs up to 2.5 pounds.
On the other hand, the skirt steak also comes from the same abdominal area, from the Plate section up to the Chuck section. It is actually the steer’s diaphragm. The skirt can be differentiated between outside and inside the skirt steaks. Both, however, are trimmed and boneless.
This boneless steak is generally attached to the sixth through the twelfth ribs. This steak is usually wrought in tough membranes. The membrane needs to be removed before you cook the steak.
When serving or eating both the skirt and flank steaks, you need to remember that you should cut the meat against the grain. This means you should cut the meat crosswise and separate the fibers instead of cutting through them. This process makes the meat more chewable.
Both the skirt and flank steaks are long. They both look odd likewise. In most recipes, both the skirt and flanks are interchangeably used. So, if you are not meticulous enough, you will never recognize which is which in the recipes.
The Differences Between Skirt and Flank Steaks
As mentioned above, experts can exactly distinguish the differences between flank and skirt steaks. They will also say that the differences usually lie in the shape, grain structure, and fat content of the skirt and flank.
The flank steak comes from the steer’s abdominal muscles (lower chest). In France, French Butchers would refer to it as “bavette,” meaning “bib.” It has a flat and long cut that is usually used in different dishes. Since the source of the flank steak is a highly exercised area of the cow’s body, it comes with many tough fibers. It is also a bit lean. Moreover, it comes in wider and thicker cuts of meat as compared to the skirt steak.
When it comes to flavor, the flank steak brings about a lot of intense flavor, though it can be tough. If you want it to be tender, you should carefully thinly slice it and do the cut against the grain.
You can marinate the flank steak, and this can help in making the meat more tender. You should also cook it using high heat and do your cooking quickly. You can also stuff, sear, or grill it.
The skirt steak, on the other hand, appears as a long and thin cut of beef derived from the diaphragm muscles. It contains many fibers and appears to be lean. It is also covered with very tough membranes that you need to remove before you cook it.
The skirt steak comes with more intense flavor as compared to the flank. However, it comes with many tough muscles. You should also cut against its grain when you serve it. The skirt is also commonly used for making fajitas, Chinese stir-fry, churrasco, and ranchera.
Skirt steaks also take to marinades and it is even better compared to the flank steaks when it comes to marinades. It is ideally cooked over high heat and the cooking should be quick. However, you can also braise it or slow-cook it. Moreover, it is best grilled and seared and is perfect for stir-frying.
How to Grill the Skirt and Flank Steaks?
Since the flank and the skirt steaks are flat and thin, you don’t need to cook them over indirect heat. You can use direct heat instead of using grill grate panels. The flank is thicker than the skirt, so it grills longer. You can grill each side of the skirt steak up to three minutes, while with the flank, you can go up to five minutes per side.
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Having read the abovementioned similarities and differences between these two types of steaks, you can now readily resolve the dilemma of flank vs skirt steak. After you’ve cooked, sliced, served both the skirt and the flank, you will not notice any significant difference between their flavor. But given a choice between the two, I think you will always go for the flank steak.