Everyone wants to throw an outdoor dinner party that impresses with a beautifully grilled steak. The cost of steak, however, may sometimes be a deterrent. Never fear. There are inexpensive cuts that deliver just as much flavour. They are also meant to be sliced thin, against the grain, so a little steak can go a long way.
Inexpensive Steak Cuts
Flank steak comes from the belly of the cow. It has almost no fat should be grilled hot and fast to medium rare, between 130 and 135 degrees as measured with a digital thermometer in the thickest part of the steak. You can see the long strands in the photo, heading from east to west. To make tender slices, you’ll need to cut the meat across the grain, meaning from north to south. Make the slices as thin as possible for maximum tenderness. A marinade will also add flavour, but not significantly more tender.
You are already familiar with skirt steak if you’ve eaten a steak fajita. The skirt is in the same neighborhood as the flank on a cow, down on the belly. This cut is packed with flavour and significantly more fat than a flank steak. It’s one of the few cuts of beef you can grill medium to well and still enjoy. You can see the strands of the muscle run from north to south and you’ll be tempted to cut it this way. But don’t. After you’re done grilling, cut the steak into three or four portions and then slice it against the grain. Skirt steak is not the prettiest so you’ll want to use it in tacos, hoagies or quesadillas.
Flat Iron Steak
Flat iron steak is a cut hidden within the chuck or shoulder of the cow. It is as flavourful and tender as a ribeye. Flat iron steaks are extremely inexpensive, and if you’re hosting a dinner party or backyard barbecue and want to impress your guests, this is the choice. It’s possible your steak will have some of silver skin still attached, similar to the the white sliver on the right side of the steak seen in the photo. Just trim that off; it’s inedible.
Avoid cuts labeled “round”. Round steaks come from the top of the cow’s hind leg – a heavily used muscle. The more an animal uses a muscle, the less tender the meat will be. Round steak looks pretty in the package, but it will be incredibly tough once grilled.