Take a walk through the meat department at your grocery store and look at the beef cuts available. You expect to pay more for the more tender, leaner meat: tenderloin (filet mignon), sirloin, the in-between (T-bone/porterhouse). Pick up a pack of sirloin steaks and compare the price with steaks cut from the flank or skirt. Do yourself a favor and try not to drop anything, because they are probably the same. Actually, you might find the sirloin strip steaks priced cheaper than the tougher flank steak.
Why? Because flank steaks are trendy. Think of them as the summertime version of short ribs. Restaurants can get these cuts cheap, marinate them and attain a big markup on dishes like carne asada or fajitas. The kicker is that flank and skirt steak come from the underbelly of the cow, supporting the weight of the animal and undergoing quite a bit of stress and strain. Flank, plate and shoulder cuts get worked a lot, meaning that the muscles get a workout. And, strong muscles mean tougher, sinewy meat.
While flank and skirt prices go up, flap steak remains affordable. Called bavette by the French and sirloin tips in New England, flap steak is the new cheap cut. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
An extension of the T-bone and Porterhouse steaks, flap meat is officially part of the short loin section, explains Bob Fanucchi, known as Butcher Bob by his students at San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy. “It’s actually in the belly of the animal,” he says. “You remove the flank, take the layers of fat off and the meat is called flap meat.”
Like the aforementioned skirt and flank, it’s best marinated and cooked over high, dry heat. The genius J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats writes that flap steak is bad when cooked rare and best at medium. It’s also best when marinated in citrus juices, as the acid helps breakdown the toughness of the beef. Flap steak picks up flavors nicely, so the marinade will influence the steak’s flavor. Now, one could make one’s own mojo marinade. It’s easy blend of lime, lemon, sour orange, garlic and cumin. Or, one could just get a bottle of Goya’s mojo criollo bottled marinade. The fine people at Goya have been bottling this tasty blend of citrus and spices for years now. Here at Al Dente HQ, it’s been deployed on chicken, fish fillets, shrimp, scallops, pork and beef.
For our purposes, we soaked the steaks in the marinade then added a little sprinkle of Goya Sazonador Total, an all-purpose spice with salt, pepper and other tasty goodness. It’s a little changeup from their trademark Adobo seasoning.
WHAT WORKED: Salsa verde is so easy to make and so worth all of the tomatillo husking.
WHAT DIDN’T: Not much here, though I let it get to medium well from not really paying attention.
EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy. Goya did all of the work on the meat.
BEST FOR: An end-of-the-summer/beginning-of-autumn grilled dinner. Or anytime during the year when it’s grilling season.
SERVE WITH: A little pico de gallo and some tortilla chips.
DISCLOSURE: The fine people at Goya Foods provided products used in the preparation of this recipe. No other compensation was received.