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Cheaper Steak Cuts

Learn how Lucinda Scala Quinn beefs up her grilling repertoire with three versatile, flavorful cuts and a couple of easy marinades.
Martha Stewart Living, September 2010

I'll let you in on a little something: I'd rather eat flank, skirt, or hanger steak than just about any other cut. Okay, I wouldn't balk at a juicy bone-in rib-eye. But most of the great loin and rib steaks depend on lots of fat for flavor -- and can cost twice as much per pound. Flank, skirt, and hanger offer the trifecta of economy, flexibility, and deliciousness.

These three cuts generally need to be tenderized with a marinade. This means you can pick the flavor you want to give the meat. Just make sure the marinade is acid-rich, containing citrus juice or vinegar.

It takes just a minute to whip up a marinade. I usually start marinating the night before, but the morning of is fine, too. Right before dinner, I'll grill or broil the meat. None of these steaks takes longer than 15 minutes to cook and rest. They're great for serving a crowd. But if you're cooking for just one or two, you've got the bonus of leftovers for tomorrow's sandwich or salad.

PICK YOUR STEAK
These steaks are naturally long and flat, not sliced from larger sections. They can be used interchangeably.

FLANK STEAK
The leanest of these three, this thin cut absorbs marinade beautifully for big flavor. Most flank steaks weigh about 1 1/2 pounds. Like the other cuts here, it's best cooked quickly over high heat and then sliced into thin pieces across the grain for a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
HANGER STEAK
Tender and full of flavor, this cut is also called butcher's steak because it's the one that meat vendors keep for themselves. If you don't see it at your market, order it. The V-shape cut, which weights 1 to 1 1/2 pounds, has a membrane down the middle that you or the butcher should remove.
SKIRT STEAK
This cut, which shares real estate on the cow with hanger steak, is very long and narrow, has a horizontal grain, and typically weighs about 1 pound. One of the tastiest of all steaks, it's a fattier cut than flank and the traditional choice for making fajitas.

PICK YOUR MARINADE
Marinate steak in a resealable bag, refrigerated, for 4 to 24 hours. Flip the bag occasionally.

Mediterranean Marinade Recipe

Latin Marinade Recipe

GRILLING HOW-TO
Preheat grill, broiler, or stove-top grill pan to high. Cook steak, flipping once, to desired doneness (preferably medium-rare); total cooking time ranges from 6 to 10 minutes, with an average of four minutes per side. Let meat rest for about five minutes before cutting across the grain into thin slices. Each pound of meat serves about four people with sides.