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Can you make tender CARNE ASADA from Flank?

KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,344
edited February 19 in EggHead Forum
I did a little research before posting and I saw that skirt is recommended and "outside" skirt if you can find it, but it is usually scooped up by all the restaurants.  So, barring that...
I usually get flank at Costco.  It comes with two large pieces and I filet them down the center to halve the thickness.  A latino chef at work told me that trick.  Reduces thickness. You can cook it hot and fast.
So, the problem is, the meat is still usually pretty tough.  Not all of it, but enough so that it can be distracting.  I know this is a working muscle and you have to really do some magic to it to get it tender.  When I order Carne Asada in a mexican restaurant, I'd say 3 out of 5 times it is awesome.  The restaurants that do it right, get it right every time.  AND, knowing that some of these small mexican restaurants are likely not buying more expensive outside skirt... they must be doing something else.
So, what is your trick to tenderize flank?
I was hoping for a natural marinade that would do the job, but heck, at this point I'd even just shake on some meat tenderizer which is what I suspect some of those restaurants do.
I saw someone in another post comment that cooking it SV first is what works for them, but I don't have one of those. Also, it is usually a quick weeknight cook.  I didn't want to mess with long prep time.  I have time for it to sit in a marinade for awhile, but didn't want to do a complicated marinade that is going to require intricate shopping and prep.  Bottled or Shaken is fine for these midweek taco cooks! ;)
If I still have your attention THIS Serious Eats recipe was well reviewed. But there is a lot going on in that marinade. If I just wanted to focus on the tenderizing ingredients, would it be the OJ?  If so I can simplify the rest and just go with what I have on hand.

In the interest of including a picture, here is my Carne Asada / Flank cook from this week.  We were in a rush to eat so I didn't get an after picture, but trust me, it looked great. :) This recipe called for a 30 minute marinade of lime, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, cumin, EVOO and scallions. After you scrape most of it off and grill.  Good flavor, but didn't help with tenderness to be honest.
(that is actually two pieces of flank, on top of each other.)
LBGE/Maryland
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Comments

  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 25,667
    serious eats lists flap steak second to skirt, it should work great if butterflied like you did. flap can be chewy but its the way people cut it that usually makes it that way

  • lkapigianlkapigian Posts: 6,271
    Carne (meat) asada ( roasted ) I do with Skirt, Flank Sirloin,really anything.....I use Rib Eye myself.....I have used flank just marinade in Lime Juice Cilantro and White Onion olive oil , grill HOT , dice and mix with more onion cilantro ....dice across grain ....I think flank is just fine 
    Visalia, Ca
  • EggcelsiorEggcelsior Posts: 14,403
    I do flank with carne asada all the time. I’ve never had an issue with tenderness. I typically marinade longer than 30 minutes, but the main question is: what doneness level are you taking it too? I typically do the medium side of medium rare. Also, how are you slicing it? I cut mine against the grain on a 45 degree bias.
  • KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,344
    one way to make it tender is to beat the crap out of it with a meat tenderizing hammer.
    Thanks.  That's awesome advice.  Don't know why I've never thought of that.
    lkapigian said:
    ... dice and mix with more onion cilantro ....dice across grain ....I think flank is just fine 
    I usually cut into strips. But dicing may be the ticket. Same flavor... smaller pieces.  Good tip.
    LBGE/Maryland
  • KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,344
    edited February 19
    I do flank with carne asada all the time. I’ve never had an issue with tenderness. I typically marinade longer than 30 minutes, but the main question is: what doneness level are you taking it too? I typically do the medium side of medium rare. Also, how are you slicing it? I cut mine against the grain on a 45 degree bias.
    Thanks! I'm always sensitive to how long I should marinade with lime juice, as I don't want it to get mushy.  This recipe called for 30 minutes, perhaps I can let that go longer.
    I'm not one for taking a working muscle and cooking it medium rare. I've had restaurants talk me into that sometimes and I always end up being served beef flavored bubble gum.  So, I am definitely going at least medium,  It's a thin cut so I really just cook it quick and hot to whenever the outside has a nice char on the sear marks and pull it off.
    For slicing, I cut it against the grain.  Not at a 45...  90.  Get those tough strands as short as possible.
    What is your go-to marinade to tenderize it?
    LBGE/Maryland
  • dmouratidmourati Posts: 743
    I want to echo what @fishlessman says above and direct you to Serious Eats. Kenji did an experiment on how long to marinate and found 3-12 hours works without getting mushy. His marinade has lime and orange juice in it. I've made his recipe several times with outside skirt and strongly recommend it.

    https://www.seriouseats.com/2015/09/food-lab-carne-asada-best.html

    Also, for outside skirt steak, check out SRF. Pricey maybe but damn good:

    https://www.snakeriverfarms.com/northwest-beef-skirt-steak.html
    https://www.snakeriverfarms.com/wagyu-outside-skirt.html

    Mountain View, CA
  • EggcelsiorEggcelsior Posts: 14,403
    Mine is pretty close to the SE one, but I marinate at least 4 hours. I try to at least go overnight.
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 32,827
    You're probably just getting the tenderness from the brining.  I doubt the citric acid has much to do with it.

    This is an interesting study that applies here.  Page 45 is the conclusion, but I would read the abstract first.



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  • loco_engrloco_engr Posts: 3,953
    haven't tried this method yet, but looks plausible:  

    aka marysvilleksegghead
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  • BattlebornBattleborn Posts: 1,434
    My typical carne asada marinade consists of lime juice, orange juice, diced jalapenos, cilantro, EVOO, S&P and garlic. The meat, either flank or flap, comes out tender. 
    Las Vegas, NV
    LG BGE, off-set smoker & various Weber's 
  • blind99blind99 Posts: 4,625
    The easiest solution may just be to get outside skirt!  It’s just so danged good. Ask the folks behind the meat counter to get it for you if they don’t regularly show it. It’s no more expensive than flank steak near me. 

    BTW you can tell if they’re selling you the wrong skirt. If you take each end of the steak in one hand and pull apart, outside will snap cleanly without much trouble. Inside skirt has more tough fascia and will be hard to tear in two. 
    Chicago, IL - Large and Small BGE - Weber Gasser and Kettle
  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 9,951
    loco_engr said:
    haven't tried this method yet, but looks plausible:  

    This guy has some great videos.
    Thank you,
    Darian

    Galveston Texas
  • KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,344
    edited February 21
    Great intel guys, thanks.
    I was concerned about marinading in acid for too long, but it sounds like I can go overnight without much concern.
    LBGE/Maryland
  • billt01billt01 Posts: 1,128
    lkapigian said:
    Carne (meat) asada ( roasted ) I do with Skirt, Flank Sirloin,really anything.....I use Rib Eye myself.....I have used flank just marinade in Lime Juice Cilantro and White Onion olive oil , grill HOT , dice and mix with more onion cilantro ....dice across grain ....I think flank is just fine 
    can't hide money.. =)
    Have:
     XLBGE / Stumps Baby XL / Couple of Stokers (Gen 1 and Gen 3) / Blackstone 36 / Maxey 3x5 water pan hog cooker
    Had:
    LBGE / Lang 60D / Cookshack SM150 / Stumps Stretch / Stumps Baby

    Fat Willies BBQ
    Ola, Ga

  • KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,344
    Photo Egg said:
    loco_engr said:
    haven't tried this method yet, but looks plausible:  

    This guy has some great videos.

    Well damn.  This one changes everything. Sounds like there is a clear winner the next time I make the flank.  I'll try it!  And for only an hour? Wow.
    LBGE/Maryland
  • PlutoniumPlutonium Posts: 170
    I like the loin flap from Costco. Sliced in the right direction it comes out great
    Albuquerque, NM - LBGE and an old rusted gasser that I use for accessory storage.


  • PlutoniumPlutonium Posts: 170


    Took me a while, but I found it! Just normal fajita style, but nice and tender even at medium rare when sliced right. 
    Albuquerque, NM - LBGE and an old rusted gasser that I use for accessory storage.


  • bucky925bucky925 Posts: 1,725
    I made braciola with a flank steak last week.  Beat the heck out of the cut to flatten it out.    Stuffed it with bread crumbs cheese and whatnot.   Seared it, then deglazed the pan with a cup of white wine.  Poured in the "gravy " put it in the oven for a while.   It turned out pretty good for a first time cook.

    Be careful when following the masses. Sometimes the M is silent.

  • blind99blind99 Posts: 4,625
    Man this thread just keeps getting better. Awesome cooks!!
    Chicago, IL - Large and Small BGE - Weber Gasser and Kettle
  • blind99blind99 Posts: 4,625
    We had a hunger for tacos tonight. Skirt steak was on my mind for some reason.




    Chicago, IL - Large and Small BGE - Weber Gasser and Kettle
  • KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,344
    edited February 24
    Plutonium said:
    I like the loin flap from Costco. Sliced in the right direction it comes out great
    I'll have to look for that. I have not noticed it at my CostCo.  I did stop into a local butcher this weekend to see if he could get outside skirt steak, but he said he doesn't carry it because it's too expensive from the grade cattle he sells from.  He said he could order me some flap steak though, $17/lbs.

    @loco_engr I tried the fresh pineapple method this weekend on some T-Bones.  Pretty  much ran it just as he said, BUT, all they had were thin cut T-Bones when I purchased. I still figured a quick cook would yield great results.  I left the pineapple on for an hour as he stated but that was too long for the thin cuts (I guess).  While the steaks were definitely tender, and looked just fine, they had a very mealy texture to them.  I'll try it again... shorter marinade or thicker steaks.
    (FYI - I'm referring to the video loco_engr posted above)


    LBGE/Maryland
  • blind99blind99 Posts: 4,625
    BTW what are folks using for seasoning for asada?  i've got a bottle of sazon that i really love, i'll try to take a pic of it later
    Chicago, IL - Large and Small BGE - Weber Gasser and Kettle
  • KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,344
    blind99 said:
    BTW what are folks using for seasoning for asada?  i've got a bottle of sazon that i really love, i'll try to take a pic of it later

     

    Funny, that’s what the Latino chef at work recommended.

    The marinade I use I posted up above.  If I don’t use that, I’ll use S&P, fresh garlic and other things that look good. Or I use the DP Fajitaish seasoning or the Penzey’s Fajita seasoning.


    QUESTION – So I took the advice here and bought some Outside Skirt that I found at Wegman’s. 

    Should you just cook outside skirt as-is, or would you still recommend some of the tenderizing tips shown above.  (when I was asking about making flank tender)






    LBGE/Maryland
  • KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,344
    edited February 25
    WOH!!!  Found this FLAP STEAK in the local asian market.  I don't know how it compares to outside skirt, but it is about a third of the price that Wegman's is charging for standard outside skirt in their cooler (not a special grade beef).
    So, guess I'm buying this next time I make carne asada.  But first I have half a flank and some skirt to consume.  =) First world problems... 

    LBGE/Maryland
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 25,667
    edited February 25
    KiterTodd said:
    WOH!!!  Found this FLAP STEAK in the local asian market.  I don't know how it compares to outside skirt, but it is about a third of the price that Wegman's is charging for standard outside skirt in their cooler (not a special grade beef).
    So, guess I'm buying this next time I make carne asada.  But first I have half a flank and some skirt to consume.  =) First world problems... 


    this article shows how to slice that cut, most people cut it wrong. its also better to cook closer to medium than the rare side of medium rare


  • KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,344
    KiterTodd said:
    WOH!!!  Found this FLAP STEAK in the local asian market.  I don't know how it compares to outside skirt, but it is about a third of the price that Wegman's is charging for standard outside skirt...

    this article shows how to slice that cut, most people cut it wrong. its also better to cook closer to medium than the rare side of medium rare


    Nice tip.  Thanks for sharing.  Also, sounds like it can benefit from some of the same tenderizing tips mentioned above in this thread.
    (pic from article linked above)
    LBGE/Maryland
  • rifrenchrifrench Posts: 362
    edited February 26
         Flap steak, or bavette steak as it known in other parts of the civilised world can be very tasty.  It is good sliced thin, butterflied all the way through,  and cooked hot and fast direct to at least 130° IT.  It makes good Carne Asade.   I buy it by the bag at the closest Costco.
     1 LBGE, 1 SBGE, 1 KBQ and a 26" Blackstone near Blackstone, Virginia
  • KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,344
    Thanks @rifrench. I've tried flank, skirt (below) and my next cook will be flap to compare. 

    So, I grilled up that Wegman's outside skirt steak tonight.  I think it was around $19/lbs.  I had a .9 lbs piece that I banged on a bit to tenderize and flatten out.  Then I put it in the pineapple puree for 30 minutes. Rinsed that off and hit it with EVOO, fresh garlic, salt & pepper. Grilled it with some shrimp and it came out....

    ...AWESOME!!!  Seriously. I don't know how much was just that it was "outside skirt" or my prep.  Do I even have to tenderize skirt like that?  Well, the flavor and tenderness was awesome.  Seriously, every bite was tender. As good or better than anything I have had in a restaurant.  Let me correct that... BETTER!

    Below is the skirt after the pineapple was rinsed off, and when I added the garlic & S&P.
    ...Aaaaaand, had to add in some more protein so there was enough for 4 of us, so I laid down some shrimp next to it. :)

    Served this with a make-your-own burrito bar which the family loved.  Rice, black beans, corn, cheese, etc. etc.  Will do this again.  Good stuff.


    Now, the punch line, if there is one... is I REALLY hope that I can get something close to this good when I try the Flap Steak.  Because the flap is $7 a lbs, and I think this skirt was $19-$20.
    LBGE/Maryland
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