Did you know that there is a right way and a wrong way to cut flank steak? That’s true of lots of different kinds of meat. Cutting them the wrong way results in a cut that isn’t quite right.
Steak is really tricky when it comes to cuts and how to slice it properly. The methods used for how to cut flank steak are important because the right method results in a cut that is tender and easy to eat. Who wants a piece of steak that they have to fight with and work at to eat? That takes some of the pleasure out of it, so that’s why I think it is important that I share with you the proper way for cutting flank steak.
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What Is a Flank Steak?
You may be wondering what a flank steak is. It’s not a steak, technically speaking. It may taste and look like steak, but the part of the cow it comes from actually means it does not qualify as a steak.
Identifying a Quality Flank Steak
It’s not an expensive piece of cow, though, and it is taken from the belly of the cow, at the lower end, near the abdominal muscle. It is about a foot long, so you get a nice piece from a single cow.
Preparing and Cutting a Flank Steak
It is usually cooked whole and isn’t divided into any smaller steaks. What makes this such a nice cut is that it is full of flavour and can be used in a lot of different dishes. You can cut it to use it in soups, stir fries, fajitas and more, or just serve it as a single cut.
To pick the right kind of flank steak and one that is good for eating, watch the packaging carefully. Look for any holes or tears in the packaging, as that indicates that the package is opened and air and bacteria are getting in. That steak could give you food poisoning. Look out for packaging that has liquid on the underside of the tray, too.
The cut of meat should have a particular look if it is high quality. It should not be ragged on the edges. The colour should be red and not off colour in any way. If it is starting to turn grey, you need to avoid it. It is going bad and should not be eaten.
Look at the moisture level as well. It should look wet but not overly moist. When you touch it, the flank steak should be cold to the touch. Flank steak that is at room temperature is extremely dangerous and is probably spoiled.
How to Cut a Flank Steak
There is definitely a right way to cut a flank steak. This steak is rich in favour, but it can also be tough. It is a steak that might be too tough for those who have a little trouble with other cuts of beef, but cutting it properly decreases the toughness and makes it more palatable.
Usually, you would marinate this steak and cook it slowly to ensure it is as tender as possible. It is usually cooked on the grill or stir fried, smoked, or broiled. No matter which method you are using to cook the steak, it is important that you know how to cut flank steak against the grain.
The Importance of Cutting Against the Grain
Cutting against the grain does something to the steak that is vital for making it tender. It cuts through the tough connective tissues, making the steak much more tender. This results in a steak that is easy to chew, and you’ll definitely appreciate that when you go to enjoy it.
Proper Technique to Cut a Flank Steak
When you cut the flank steak, be sure to place it on a cutting board. This helps you control it better and keeps it from moving around while you cut it. Using a cutting board also helps you avoid damaging your counters. Never try to cut a steak on a ceramic or plastic plate. It is best to cut it before you cook it, so it is still cold and easy to handle.
Selecting the Right Knife for Cutting Flank Steak
Before we get into just what to do as you cut the steak, I want to share one more tip- use a sharp knife that is designed for cutting steak. Any kind of non-serrated steak knife will do. It just needs to be very sharp to cut through the steak cleanly, without creating jagged edges or being too difficult to use.
Methods to Cut Flank Steak for Different Recipes
Whether you are looking for how to cut flank steak for fajitas or how to cut flank steak for carne asada, you will be using the same cutting method. You need to cut across the grain. In order to do that, examine the flank steak and see which direction the muscle fibres run. You then line up your knife perpendicular to the fibres. Don’t try to line it up parallel to them.
The Perfect Cutting Technique
Once the knife is lined up, simply cut from one end to the other. The majority of flank steaks you buy will be rectangular, and they will have fibres that run across the entire length. You will be slicing the width of the steak rather than slicing down the length with these kinds of steaks.
It’s not a bad idea to cut the steak while it is very cold, actually when it is partially frozen. This way, it will be easier to cut through, as it will be firm and will not slide around as much.
No matter what you are cutting your flank steak for, you can use these same tips and this same method. If you are looking for tips on how to cut flank steak for Mongolian beef or how to cut flank steak for stir fry, just follow the ones I have already given you. This method works just fine for all different ways you can use flank steak.
Cooking Flank Steak for Maximum Tenderness
When you cook your flank steak, make sure eat cook it thoroughly. You want it to be as tender as possible. Remember that it is a tough cut of steak and will give you some trouble when you try to eat it if it is undercooked. You want it to be chewy but not overly tough, and cooking it thoroughly is a big part of that.
Achieving the Perfect Flank Steak
Of course, if you know how to cut a flank steak, then that helps a lot as well. Do all of that, and you will have a wonderfully tender steak that is full of flavour and perfect to use in a wide variety of foods.
What’s the proper technique for cutting flank steak at home?
To cut flank steak properly, you need a sharp chef’s knife and a stable cutting board. Begin by identifying the direction of the muscle fibers or “grain” of the steak. Once you’ve found the grain, position your steak so that you’ll be cutting across it. Make thin slices (about 1/4 inch thick) at a slight diagonal across the grain.
Why is it important to cut flank steak against the grain?
Cutting against the grain is crucial for maintaining the tenderness of your steak. The grain refers to the muscle fibers in the meat. When you cut against the grain, you are shortening those fibers, which makes the meat easier to chew and digest. If you cut parallel to the grain, you would leave these muscle fibers long, resulting in a tougher, chewier piece of meat.
How can I ensure my flank steak is tender after cutting and cooking it?
Apart from cutting the steak against the grain, there are a few other tricks you can use to keep it tender. One way is to marinate your flank steak before cooking. Ingredients in the marinade like acid (citrus juice, vinegar) or enzymes (found in fruits like pineapple, papaya) can help to break down tough muscle fibers. Additionally, avoid overcooking flank steak as it can become tough when cooked past medium. If possible, aim for a medium-rare to medium doneness, about 130-140°F (54-60°C) when checked with a meat thermometer.