The cult image associated with the flank steak has spilt over from the USA to Europe. This is, without doubt, one of the more exciting cuts to be had – with an intense flavour and plenty of bite. The cut’s firm structure comes from the length of the fibres.
Flank steak is taken from the cow’s belly – it is cut out from underneath the sirloin. It is often confused with skirt steak – but there are clear differences. With its oval, flat shape, it is visibly different from the usual A-cuts. Depending on the age and size of the slaughtered animal, it can weigh up to one kilo and reach a thickness of 2-3 centimetres.
Other distinctive features include its fine marbling, which ensures sufficient flavour despite a low fat content in the meat, and its long fibres, which most amateur cooks still shy away from. However, such fears are unfounded – once you have learned how to prepare it properly, the flank steak will prove to be an enriching addition to your steak repertoire.
The international terms
- Germany – Dünnung/ Bauchlappen/Flanke
- Austria – Bavette/ Rinderlappen
- France – Bavette de Flanchet
- Italy – Bavetta
- UK – Flank steak
- USA – Flank
How do I prepare a flank steak correctly?
In order to create a flavoursome steak from a flank cut, you should pay close attention to a few things. Traditionally, the flank steak is cooked on a grill, such as a gas grill, for just a few minutes. The thickness of the piece also determines the preparation time here.
- For very thin flank steaks, it is sufficient to sear the steak on the grill for roughly three minutes on both sides.
- Thick flank steaks (over two centimetres) should first be seared and then placed on indirect heat where they reach a core temperature of approx. 54°C.
- It is best to monitor this during the cooking process with the help of a digital thermometer. While the steak is resting, its core temperature will then rise to 56°C.
In any case, it should rest for a few minutes before being carved. Re-heating in the oven is not necessary – this flat piece of meat would only reach an overdone state.
To ensure that nothing goes wrong during the final stages, caution is now once again called for. A flank steak must always be cut across the grain – but the slices should not be too thick. The thinner the slice, the more pleasant the sensation when eaten. Depending on the width of the flank steak, you can also first cut it lengthwise along the grain and halve it, before then cutting it into slices.
It is best to serve a few aromatic side dishes that can hold their own with the steak, to match the meat’s strong flavour.
Can you cook a flank steak sous-vide?
Contrary to popular belief, flank steak cannot only be prepared on the grill or in a pan. It can also be braised and even cooked sous-vide style to produce wonderful results. The optimum temperature is 56 degrees for a cooking time of 2-3 hours. Afterwards, however, you should grill it again briefly to bring out those all-important full-bodied roasted aromas.
Where can I buy really good flank steak?
In many countries this flavoursome cut remained relegated to the soup pot for a long time. Which is why finding it in the butcher's display long proved quite difficult. It was not even cut out during slaughter, instead making its way straight into meat cuts for soup.
The search is now not quite as difficult, as this fine cut is beginning to make its mark on the cooking scene in Europe. An increasing number of butchers are discovering their enthusiasm for second cuts and are offering the flank steak. Placing a call to your trusted butcher offers the best chance of finding what you are looking for.