best CHEAP! beef for the grill
What is the best cheap cut of meat for the grill? I don't mind marinading or brining, but I'm really not set up for 8 hours of smoking.
skirt or flank are pretty inexpensive and tasty. i like using these for parties because you can feed a lot of people if you slice them thin, and it's MUCH less $$ than trying to make sirloins for everyone.
as far as preparation, there's another post you can refer to for ideas...
Here's a second vote for skirt steak, my favorite for grilling. I generally don't like beef in any form, but skirt has amazing taste. Grilled hot and fast, then sliced thinly across the grain it is absolutely terrific. Only trouble is finding it. We have to special order it from our butcher and even then we can't always get it.
You can also try hanger (hangar) steak. It's traditionally used for steak frite, but comes out really well on the grill too. No marinading necessary as it's very flavorful and tender as is. And even at the most expensive butcher shops it's rarely more than $8/Lb. The tough thing is finding it.
Flank steak isn't much cheaper than T-bone.
There are some ethnic cuts of meat that grill quite rapidly. Mexicans have their carne asada, and carne adobada. Typically these are a thick cut that has been skillfully butterflied. Adobada is marinated in medium spicy chile paste. If there is a 'carniceria' (Mexican butchershop) in your neighborhood, check them out.
An Asian market will have thin sliced meat. In Korean cooking this is marinated, and then grilled at the table.
Flank steak is much cheaper, at least in NYC, than a t-bone. I see it in stores for maybe $6-7/lb. It is a great and flavorful steak. Just dont cook it past medium rare and slice thinly across the grain.
Cooks Illustrated gave flap meat their highest score for best cheap cut for grilling. The only place i've seen it sold is Costco.
I'm a big fan of flap steak. Not as easy to find as flank, skirt, or hanger, but usually cheaper and – in my opinion – tastier (really beefy). I've found big packages of it at Costco for about $5.99/lb.
Here's an older piece from the SF Gate about flap steak:
Tri-Tip, which I only seem to find in California, is great on the grill, and often on sale, at least here.
It may be called something else in other parts of the country. Be aware it's more like a roast...you sear it on both sides, then cook in covered grill until done, and serve in slices.
We recently bought a tray of Safeway's "Rancher's Reserve" tri-tip on special, three nice pieces for 7.99 fed 10 people.
I was skeptical, but we found the quality to be quite good - miles beyond standard supermarket fare, and just a shade below our local "artisanal" butcher.
I like to use a plain old chuck roast steak. It takes longer to cook about 10 min or more per side but the marbling is great. I usually use a garden variety barbecue rub applied a few hours before. Leftovers make really tasty sandwiches.
Try Flat Iron steak. It has the flavor of sirloin but is almost as tender as filet. At my grocery store they are $5 a pound. Cook and eat just like you would any other steak.
It's a fairly new cut of beef so you may have to ask around.
Here's a link to information on the Flat Iron steak:
There are recipes on this link but I like it just grilled up and eaten like a strip steak.
Here in Boston in Brazilian Butchers they have Picanha + Alcatra for between $1.99-$3.99/lb ("Aged" Picanha is more, about the same price as skirt). It comes in large steaks with a rind of fat. Its chewier, but can be grilled by just throwing a bunch of super-coarse salt and then batting it off. Its usually translated as "top sirloin," but its hard to buy the same exact cut from most american butchers. Picanha itself can be very tender, but this is overall going to be more chewy than properly grilled and sliced skirt. Alcatra can also make excellent kebobs.
Skirt is usually $5.99. I have seen flap meat in Halal butchers, plus flap, flatiron, and hanger at Restaurant depot but the quantity would be larger.
For a similar price to skirt, there also is thinly sliced beef ribs which still need some time (often sold for stir fry), but don't necessarily need to be smoked so I sometimes buy those to grill.
I often buy various roasts and cut my own steaks. A small-end rib roast makes really nice steaks, but there are various top sirloin and round/butt cuts which can make decent steaks.