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how to cut flank steak?

  • mschow May 29, 2007 09:05 AM
  • 7

This questions should be obvious, but since I don't cook flank steak too often, I am not sure I've been doing it correctly.
Last week I marinated and grilled a flank steak. I cut it along the short side of the steak, in thin strips, as one would cut a skirt steak (which I make all the time). A friend told me I should cut it on a slight diagonal. Which is correct?
The meat was rather tough, I must say.

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  1. Across the short side is right but you do want to cut it at an angle to make the slice wider. This will help with the toughness.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Eric in NJ

      Actually, you would only cut on the bias (angle) for presentation purposes.

      You should cut a flank steak across (perpendicular to) the grain to make the meat fibers as short as possible. Cutting it on the bias would lengthen the fibers and make it slightly tougher (not sure if it will be appreciably tougher). If you don't really care about having a wide slice to fan out on the plate, cut it vertically across the grain.

      1. re: ESNY

        OK, another stupid question. The flank steak I bought was long and fairly thin. I cut it on the short side, not through the long side. Do you mean I should have cut it on the long side? And, since the heavens opened up outside, I had to cook the meat inside on a grill pan. Normally, I would never cook a steak in the oven or inside, due to my stubborn range. But, I do think I may have overcooked it a bit, since I am not used to cooking steak except on the grill. Maybe this did contribute to the toughness, as another poster suggested.

        1. re: mschow

          It sounds like your cutting across the short side is the equivalent to cutting across the grain, or perpendicuar to the grain. Indoor grill pans are fine, especially if you have good ventilation. Because for the high heat you need, it will smoke.
          I cook indoors on a cast iron grill, since I have a good vent hood. It works just fine, so that's not it.
          Was your meat med. rare? Was it pink in the middle? Was in red in the middle? Do you use a temperature probe or know how to use touch to sense the doneness?
          All this will help you perfect this cut. It is a great cut to entertain with : for the price it's a gem.

          1. re: mschow

            I really can't tell you whether to cut it on the short or long side. it would all depend on how big a piece you got. If you got the entire flank, it would vaguely resemble the shape of a cafeteria tray. Kind of rectancle-ish with grain running the length of the long side. I think a full flank would be around 3lbs. But if you got a small piece of a flank, the grain might the width of the short side. If you look at the picture of the flank in the attached link, you can sort of see the grain running along the length of the flank, see the grain? (its not the best pic, but you should get the idea). In this case, you would want to cut thin slices widthwise, so you'd be holding yoru knife perpendicular to the long side and you'd wind up with thin, shortish slices, not really long slices.

            http://www.foodsubs.com/MeatBeefB&amp...

            a slightly better pic.

            http://www.freshdirect.com/product.js...

            Living in an apartment in NYC, I don't have a grill and cooks lots of steak on my cast iron skillet and they always come out great, including flank. So you can definitely cook flank indoors, but if you cooked it past medium rare you'll definitely get a tough steak.

      2. Your friend's method is fine too. As a rule, you should cut across the grain, at a rather heavy angle of the knife. Cutting on a slight bias across the grain would be fine too. Additionally, if you cooked it past medium, it won't matter if you try too make oragami out of it. It will be tough.
        The cutting is the final step in preparing this excellent cheap and tasty cut. First, high heat grill/ sear to med. rare. Rest at least 5-6 minutes, then cut as above. You wont go wrong.

        1 Reply
        1. re: monavano

          I've grilled lots of flank steak at various cooking jobs. Every so often, one will just be somewhat tough, no matter how it's sliced. But give me flavor over tenderness most of the time! Beef tenderloin is my least favorite cut. Skirt and flank are tied with rib eye for my favorites. Flank steak holds up to long marination and is at its best cooked no more than medium rare, as monavano stated.