When you think of delectable, savory beef cuts, the flank steak likely holds a coveted spot. Known for its robust flavor and distinct texture, this cut of beef, derived from the cow’s abdominal muscles, has staked its claim in cuisines worldwide. However, for a variety of reasons, ranging from availability to pricing or even culinary experimentation, you might find yourself in need of a worthy substitute for this prized piece of meat.
This is where we introduce you to an array of alternatives that not only echo the flank steak’s notable characteristics but also bring their unique attributes to the table. Whether you’re stirring up a French classic, a Mexican favorite, or an Asian delicacy, the substitutes we detail here can seamlessly slide into your dishes. Each possessing its unique flavor profiles, textures, and cooking preferences, these cuts make the task of substituting flank steak an exciting culinary exploration, enriching your gastronomic experiences one meal at a time.
What is Flank Steak?
Flank steak is a lean yet incredibly flavorful cut of beef, originating from the abdominal muscles of the cow. This muscular piece of meat is renowned for its rich, full flavor and the distinctive, fibrous texture. Known for its versatility, the flank steak is a favorite in numerous dishes, from the traditional French ‘Steak Frites’ to the oriental ‘Beef Stir-fry.’ But, flank steak can sometimes be difficult to find or slightly more expensive, necessitating the need for worthy substitutes.
The Magnificent Seven: A Roster of Flank Steak Substitutes
- Skirt Steak
- Hanger Steak
- Flat Iron Steak
- Flap Meat
- London Broil
- Short Ribs
Best Substitutes For Flank Steak
In the vast world of gastronomy, numerous alternatives can mimic the taste and texture of flank steak. Here, we delve into the seven best substitutes, expanding upon their characteristics, usage, and benefits.
The Skirt Steak, a close cousin to the Flank, stands as our first substitute. Cut from the diaphragm muscles of the cow, it shares a similar fibrous texture and robust flavor with the Flank steak.
The Skirt Steak comes in two varieties: the ‘Inside Skirt’ and the ‘Outside Skirt.’ While the inside skirt is leaner, the outside skirt is renowned for its flavor. When cooked right, the skirt steak is tender and full-bodied, often used in Mexican cuisine like ‘Fajitas’ and ‘Carne Asada.’
Moreover, skirt steak absorbs marinades well, making it an ideal choice for flavor-packed recipes. However, it’s crucial to slice it against the grain post-cooking to prevent it from being too chewy. Its mix of taste, texture, and versatility positions the skirt steak as an excellent alternative to flank steak.
Nicknamed ‘the butcher’s secret,’ the Hanger Steak is another remarkable substitute. Known for its strong beefy flavor, it is obtained from the cow’s lower belly. It’s called the hanger steak because it literally hangs between the rib and the loin.
Hanger steak, though lean, is incredibly tender and more flavorful than flank steak. It benefits from quick, high-heat cooking methods like grilling or broiling. This steak type is also a staple in French bistros, serving as the star in the classic dish ‘Steak Frites.’
It’s worth noting that the hanger steak comes with a tough vein running through its middle that should be removed before cooking. If you’re after a meat cut that delivers on flavor and tenderness, the hanger steak is an excellent choice.
Flat Iron Steak
The Flat Iron Steak, also known as ‘Top Blade Steak,’ emerges from the shoulder area of the cow. Named for its similarity in shape to an old-fashioned iron, this steak cut has gained popularity in recent years for its incredible tenderness.
The flat iron steak is moderately marbled, translating to a juicy, flavorful steak that holds its own against more expensive cuts. It performs exceptionally well when grilled, broiled, or pan-seared.
Moreover, it’s easy to slice, thanks to its uniform thickness, and it takes to marinades very well. If you’re in the market for a tender, juicy, and affordable substitute to flank steak, the flat iron steak makes a compelling contender.
Not to be mistaken with Flap Steak, Flap Meat, also known as ‘Sirloin Tips,’ is a flavorful and underrated cut of beef from the bottom sirloin. It has a coarse grain and robust flavor, akin to the flank steak.
Flap meat is ideal for grilling, broiling, and stir-frying. It’s notably popular in New England for ‘Sirloin Tip’ dishes and in Mexican cuisine for ‘Carne Asada.’
Remember to slice it against the grain to ensure maximum tenderness. For those seeking a flank steak substitute with a distinct beefy flavor and cost-effectiveness, flap meat is a valuable option.
London Broil is not exactly a cut of meat, but rather a method of preparation. The term usually refers to flank steak, top round steak, or skirt steak, marinated, and then broiled or grilled.
Despite being a cooking method, many butcher shops label top round steak or similar cuts as ‘London Broil.’ This meat cut, when marinated and cooked correctly, can mimic the flavors and texture of a flank steak.
It is crucial to slice the London Broil thinly against the grain, as it can be a bit tougher than other cuts. If you’re looking for an easy-to-prepare, flavorful, and economical alternative to flank steak, London Broil is worth considering.
Moving on to the rib section, we find our next substitute: Short Ribs. Unlike traditional ribs, short ribs are meatier and contain a short portion of the rib bone.
Short ribs are exceptionally rich in flavor due to the marbling of fat within the meat. They are perfect for slow cooking methods like braising or smoking, which renders the tough connective tissues into gelatin, yielding succulent, tender meat.
Although they differ in shape and size from the flank steak, their deep flavor and tenderness when slow-cooked make short ribs a unique and flavorful alternative to flank steak.
Finally, the Brisket, a cut from the lower chest or breast of the cow, offers another substitute. It is one of the nine primal cuts of beef and is typically divided into two sections: the flat and the point.
Brisket is a tough cut due to the collagen fibers that make up the significant portion of the connective tissue in this cut. It needs long, slow cooking times to break down these fibers and tenderize the meat.
However, with patience and the right cooking method, the brisket transforms into a tender, melt-in-your-mouth cut of beef. It’s often used for smoking, braising, or for making corned beef. Although cooking brisket requires more effort, the result is a delicious, savory beef cut that can stand in for flank steak.
Substitutes for Flank Steak: Nutritional Profile
|Beef Cut||Gluten||Calories||Fat (g)||Carbs (g)||Fiber (g)||Protein (g)|
|Flat Iron Steak||0||140||6.28||0||0||20.11|
Values are per 85g serving and can vary based on preparation and cooking methods.
Epilogue: The World Beyond Flank Steak
In exploring these alternatives, we’ve ventured beyond the boundaries of the familiar flank steak into a world teeming with flavorful possibilities. Whether you’re seeking cost-effectiveness, tenderness, or a particular flavor profile, you now possess a diverse culinary toolkit. While each substitute has its unique qualities and benefits, they all share one common trait: an ability to deliver a satisfying and hearty meal, demonstrating that the world beyond flank steak is as delicious as it is diverse. Let your culinary creativity take the helm, and embark on this gastronomic adventure.