Most people are familiar with standard steak cuts - Ribeye, New York Strip, Filet Mignon - but did you know there is a whole world of cuts available? While the ubiquitous cuts are delicious in their own right, some of the most flavorful and mouth-watering steaks can’t be found in the grocery store meat case.
We, at the Organic Butcher, take great care in stocking the widest variety of cuts available, so it is our pleasure to introduce you to some of our favorites!
FLANK (aka London Broil)
Flank steak comes from the abdominal muscles or lower chest — literally, the flank — of the cow. It is lean, boneless, and inexpensive so it’s perfect for a mid-week family meal. Throw on the grill for a few minutes per side to use in fajitas, on salads, or alongside grilled veggies. We also love using leftovers in sandwiches the next day.
Flank steak marinates well because of its course texture, hearty grain, and beefy flavor. Try this bright and healthy recipe by cookbook author Melissa Clark as summer winds down:
Cuban Flank Steak
1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest plus 1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
2 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
One 1 1/2-pound flank steak
2 ripe, firm mangoes—peeled, pitted and sliced
Lime wedges, for serving
Directions In a blender, combine the citrus zests and juice with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic, oregano, cumin, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and blend until smooth.
In a glass or ceramic baking dish, pour all but ¼ cup of the marinade over the steak and turn to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Light a grill or grill pan and oil the grate. Remove the steak from the marinade, letting the excess drip off. Season with salt and pepper and grill over moderate heat, turning once, until lightly charred and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 125°, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the steak to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the meat against the grain and transfer to a platter with the mango slices and lime wedges. Drizzle with the reserved marinade and serve.
BAVETTE (aka Flap Steak, Sirloin Tip)The Bavette sits right under the Flank. Of all the inexpensive cuts of beef, this one's the most versatile and a great choice for Mexican-style grilled meats, French bistro steaks, and Asian stir-fry. Bavette should be cooked using high, dry heat; such as grilling, broiling, pan-frying or stir-frying, then cut very thinly across the grain. This cut is at its best between medium-rare and medium.
For an impressive bistro-style meal, try the recipe below. One of our new compound butters would be perfect in this recipe too!
Bavette Steak with Beurre Rouge & Roasted Potatoes
2 lbs baby yukon gold potatoes, halved if more than 2 inches in diameter
salt and pepper
3 sprigs rosemary or 3 sprigs thyme
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup low sodium beef broth
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 lbs Bavette steak
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and kept chilled
Preheat oven to 425°. Place the potatoes on a heavy-duty baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then spread out cut-side down on the pan. Drape with the rosemary or thyme sprigs, then roast for 15 minutes without stirring, until crisp and brown.
Pierce with a knife and if not yet tender, roast for about 10-15 minutes longer. Discard the herbs, or use as garnish.
Meanwhile, combine the wine, broth, shallots and bay leaf in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Keep at a low boil until reduced to 1/2 cup. This could take 25-30 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf and set aside.
(If the steak is too large to fit in one pan, cut it in half to separate the thicker part and the thinner part. Use 2 skillets to cook the steak.) Season the steak well on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil shimmers, add the steak and cook until browned, about 1 1/2-2 minutes per side.
Transfer the meat to a baking sheet and roast in the oven until cooked to your liking, about 10-12 minutes for medium-rare on the thicker part.
Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes.
If the wine reduction has cooled, reheat gently. Remove from the heat, and add a little of the cold butter, whisking until it melts. Continue adding the butter a little at a time, reheating gently for a moment if necessary, until the sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Slice the Bavette thinly against the grain and serve with the beurre rouge and potatoes.
COULOTTE (aka Top Sirloin Cap, Picanha, Churrascarias)The Coulotte is a sirloin cut taken from the triangular muscle sitting right over the top sirloin near the back of the cow. It has very little natural marbling so is sold with a nice layer of fat still intact. The texture and flavor is similar to that of your ordinary sirloin, only with more intense flavors from the rendering of fat during the cooking process.
This cut is hugely popular in Brazil where they sear it quickly, slice it, and then grill it to medium-rare. Each slice is served with a nice piece of the fat cap.
HANGER (aka Butcher's Steak, Hanging Tenderloin)The Hanger steak is taken from the lower belly area where it hangs down between the tenderloin and the rib. Hanger is usually the most tender cut on the cow. Back in the day, butchers would keep this cut a secret for themselves, hence the name "Butcher's Steak."
This cut is rich, meaty, and over-the-top tender. It's best cooked to medium-rare and pairs well with a zesty chimichurri sauce to counter-balance the richness of the meat.
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 large garlic cloves, minced (2 1/2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons oregano leaves
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a food processor, combine the parsley, vinegar, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper. Process until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and pour the olive oil over the mixture. Let stand for at least 20 minutes.
Can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.
TRI-TIP (aka Triangle Steak or Roast, Bottom Sirloin Steak)Tri-Tip is the tender, triangle roast that comes from just in front of the hind quarters. This cut is lean and similar in texture to a brisket but with less fat content so it will cook more quickly.
The versatility of Tri-tip is what makes it a great cut. Uncut, it is a fantastic roast that can be grilled indirectly for 30 to 40 minutes. You can also cut the tri-tip into 1-inch thick steaks, that grill up in about 8 minutes over a low to medium direct heat. As always, let your steak (or roast) sit for 5 to 10 minutes before you carve or serve it.
The Tri-tip cut is best cooked to medium rare. It has a little more chew than traditional steaks like strip or tenderloin, but a whole bunch of flavor.
This cut is popular in Santa Maria-style barbecue in the Southwest. Tri-tip is cooked fairly quickly over an open pit just until medium-rare. No low-and-slow smoking, no breakdown of connective tissue, no fancy barbecue sauces. Just seasoned beef, grilled, sliced, and served with a bowl of beans, a tomato salsa, and buttery garlic bread.
Try this recipe from Serious Eats for something different this Labor Day weekend.
Santa Maria-Style Barbecue Tri-Tip
4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
1 whole tri-tip roast (about 2 1/2 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. If desired, add a few chunks of oak that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes directly to the coals.
Rub steak with garlic and season well with salt and pepper. Place over cooler side of grill, cover, and cook, turning and flipping occasionally until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak registers 115 to 120°F for medium rare, 20 to 30 minutes.
If coals are not hot, remove steak from grill, add another quart of coals, and wait five minutes for them to heat up. Return steak to hot side of grill. Cook, flipping regularly until well-charred on exterior and center of steak registers 120 to 125°F on an instant-read thermometer, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice thinly and serve with salsa.
FLAT IRON (aka Top Blade Steak, Butler's Steak, Oyster Blade Steak)
The Flat Iron is cut with the grain from the shoulder of the cow and contains a significant amount of marbling.
The Flat Iron (named because it looks like an old-fashioned metal flat iron) is uniform in thickness and rectangular in shape and perfect for grilling.
This cut is widely considered to be the second most tender cut after the Tenderloin, and is best if not cooked past medium.
We recommend serving the Flat Iron with a spicy, creamy horseradish sauce much like you would a Prime Rib.
1 1/2 cups crème fraîche or sour cream
1/2 cup prepared white horseradish
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Whisk all ingredients to blend in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)
This cut of meat has a really interesting beginning, as it was "discovered" by scientists who came up with a new way to cut the connective shoulder tissue of the cow. You can read more about it here.
Skirt steak is one of the most flavorful cuts of beef, and even though it's one of the tougher cuts, with a lot of connective tissue, it's still a fantastic steak for grilling.
Skirt steak actually comes from either of two separate muscles inside the chest and abdominal cavity, below the ribs, in the section known as the beef plate primal cut. The two muscles are the diaphragm muscle, or outside skirt, and the transversus abdominis muscle, or inside skirt.
This cut is a bit thinner than the inside skirt, but with more delicious fat. This long, flat strip of meat has an incredibly beefy flavor, and when marinated and prepared correctly, the Outside Skirt is an excellent choice for texture, value and versatility.
Skirt is the ideal cut for fajitas and tacos. Cook it on a very hot grill for about 3-4 minutes per side, searing the juices in and cooking through to no more than medium.
We hope this post has given you a good introduction to the myriad of cuts available at the Organic Butcher. Everyone behind the counter is ready to guide you with recipes and cooking instructions. We'll see you soon!