When I say tomahawk, t-bone or ribeye, almost everyone will know perfectly well that I’m talking about great steaks. Not everyone, though, is aware of how many types of steaks there are, other than the most known ones.
How many people know about the existence of the skirt and flank steak?
There might be a lot of them, but how many of them actually know what that is and understand that these are two different cuts.
These two names get very often confused which is why I tried to explain what exactly both steaks are. I have prepared a comparison between the flank and the skirt steak to make it easier for you to understand the differences and definitions for each of them.
Skirt Steak vs Flank Steak
Plenty of people think that the skirt and the flank steak are the same steak – which is definitely not true.
Of course the cuts come from similar areas but the different names are actually not accidental. In the next part of this guide you will find out what are the key differences between them and why you should know how to tell them apart.
Flank Steak Overview
What is another name: The flank steak is also known under the name “London Broil”, as well as other less popular names such as bavette steak or jiffy steak. It is a type of meat that is well known in Brazil under the name “fraldinha”, and in Colombia as sobrebarriga.
Where it’s from: Just like the skirt steak, the flank steaks come from the lower part of a cow’s belly. These are muscles used for walking, which is why they do a whole lot of work, something that sadly is not the best for meat, which you will learn more about below.
Where to buy: This is not quite so common a steak compared to others which is why you won’t get it in all butcher shops and supermarkets. On top of that, you need to know this piece to make sure that the name wasn’t confused with some other piece at the store. Luckily the offer of online stores has developed so much that you can easily order something with home delivery.
Tastes: It has an intense taste, but its downside is that it might be a little too tough. That’s why meat of this type is usually cut into strips and sliced in a way that ensures the best delicacy possible.
How to cook: It is definitely recommended to use a marinate, which helps achieve better delicacy of tough meat. It is the best to cook meat fast and hot, which means that the perfect choice here will be a charcoal or gas grill. Of course you can also fry meat on a pan or roast it in the oven.
Skirt Steak Overview
What is another name: When it comes to the United States, the skirt steak doesn’t have too many interesting names besides Philadelphia steak, Romanian steak and Romanian tenderloin. Outside of the US, it is known in Mexico under the name Arrachera, whereas in Spain under the name Entraña.
Where it’s from: This thin but long piece of meat comes from a cow’s diaphragm muscles. It is right next to a cow’s stomach, which is where the flank steak comes from, and that’s why both cuts are often confused. The meat is also characterized by similar toughness and length due to a large number of durable fibers.
Where to buy: Just like the Flank steak, the Skirt is not a very well known type of meat everywhere either, which means that you won’t get it at any store. If you know a good butcher then you can ask them about this cut. Other than that, you also have the easy and convenient option of ordering meat online from one of the many renowned online meat shops.
Tastes: The taste stands out with even greater intensity, but due to the toughness one has to be able to properly prepare the meat in order to achieve as much delicacy as possible.
How to cook: I also recommend marinate here, which is perfect for these types of tough meat. There are many recipes but my advice is, keep the meat in marinate long enough, and you certainly won’t regret it. Slice the meat thinner and cook it fast at high temperature (like on a grill for example).
The key differences between a flank steak and a skirt steak
The flank steak comes from the lower part of a cow’s stomach whereas the skirt steak comes from the diaphragm muscles. That means that both cuts come from the areas where lots of work is done. The result of this is fairly lean yet fibrous meat that is characterized by an intense cow flavor, but sadly it is pretty tough.
That’s why it requires adequate preparations, otherwise a poorly prepared flank or skirt steak will not be among the food you’d like to remember and try again.
The key in preparing both steaks is to use marinate and adequate cooking techniques. I can guarantee you that if you prepare this meat perfectly, you will be very pleasantly surprised.
Which is better to cook?
Actually, both steaks are brilliant when it comes to cooking on a grill.
The only major difference might be the fact that a skirt steak has less fat, which obviously might be a source of flare-ups when cooking. This might be the reason why the skirt steak tends to be more preferred for grilling, but personally I believe that both are great.
Both pieces are characterized by their intense beef flavor but I have to admit that the skirt steak wins. Why? All thanks to much higher fat content, which is nearly absent in the flank steak.
Conclusion: what to choose?
The answer to that question mainly depends on what dish you are planning to prepare.
The skirt steak is best known from such dishes as fajitas or Philly cheesesteak and it is this exact meat that is preferred for recipes of that type.
The flank steak works great when grilled, but you can also use it in many different recipes (like the London Broil for example). Just prepare the meat in marinate then cook it at high temperature and make sure to cross-cut it when serving.
In the end, I recommend trying both steaks (several different versions are a must) and developing your own opinion. What matters the most to me is for as many people as possible to discover that there are many other great steaks.
You just need to know how to properly prepare them, but that’s not a problem these days with such easy access to knowledge and countless numbers of recipes together with valuable tips.