Home / Articles / Food & Drink / Kitchen Witch / Cheapskate steak
Print this Article
Thursday, June 1, 2006 04:41 am

Cheapskate steak

Why must we turn to the same cuts of cow every time?

As summer makes its debut, cowboy wannabes across America are pulling out their grills, great and small, for a season of smoke, fire, and, alas, the same old underwhelming steaks. Why must we turn to the same cuts of cow every time? To paraphrase my pal Ralph Waldo Emerson, foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Besides, those fillets and New York strips are top-dollar items — for chumps for who don’t know better. Savvy cooks are getting in on a little secret that butchers have been keeping to themselves: the flatiron and the skirt. You can still grill and get great flavor, but you’ll also save a few bucks, maybe enough for a bottle of wine. Meet the skirt: She’s long and thin and kind of striated, like a scarf that you might wear between winter and spring. She hails from the diaphragm muscle, which means somewhere between the belly and the chest. You may be more familiar with the flank steak, which is the larger encompassing area and very respectable, but that flank is tough on the wallet. Sure, skirt has a bit of fat and connective tissue, but because she’s so thin, she cooks up quickly and beautifully on the grill and loves being part of a salad. Moving from the belly area over to the shoulder is the underestimated flatiron, also known as the top-blade steak. Technically, the top blade is part of the chuck, a tough part of the animal that usually gets ground for burgers or cut up into stew meat. The top blade is the exception to the muscley chuck rule, though. It offers up lean, boneless, tender meat that would convert any T-bone lover. About an inch thick, with a flat top and slightly triangular shape, the flat iron is budget-steak paradise. The only caveat: A long piece of connective tissue (a.k.a. gristle) that runs down the middle needs to be removed. You can do that after cooking and keep the steak intact. Both cuts need a boost of marinating. To the left of this column is an Asian-style mix of goodies that you can play with, depending on what’s in the kitchen. Enjoy the new cuts — and the extra change weighing down your wallet.

Asian-y Steak Marinade

Ingredients For a 1-pound flatiron, skirt, or flank steak: 2 teaspoons black-bean garlic sauce 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce 1/4 cup hoisin sauce 1 tablespoon sesame oil 1 tablespoon honey 2 tablespoons rice wine or sake 11/2 teaspoons fish sauce 2 teaspoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon water One clove garlic, minced 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
Instructions In a nonreactive bowl or container, combine all ingredients. Add meat to marinade, making sure it is completely covered, and marinate for up to an hour at room temperature; for longer periods or in extremely hot weather, cover meat and let it marinate in the refrigerator. Preheat the grill, which should be very hot (you should be able to place your hand 5 inches above grill for one or two seconds only). Place the steak on the grill and cook it until it’s well seared on one side, about four minutes. With tongs, turn the steak on its other side and continue cooking until you’ve achieved the desired level of doneness. Rare: 120 degrees; medium: about 135 degrees. Remove the steak from heat and let it rest a few minutes. To finish the flatiron steak, cut the center line of gristle before thinly slicing on a diagonal, against the grain.
Suggested serving Plate your steak with rice and cucumbers dressed in sesame oil, rice wine and red-pepper flakes. A 1-pound steak yields two or three servings.
Log in to use your Facebook account with

Login With Facebook Account

Recent Activity on IllinoisTimes


  • Thu
  • Fri
  • Sat
  • Sun
  • Mon
  • Tue
  • Wed


Sunday May 20th