Budget CUTS

Just because money is tight doesn't mean your steak has to be tough

August 27, 2008|By SUSAN REIMER | SUSAN REIMER,susan.reimer@baltsun.com

Tough times don't have to mean tough meat. No matter what the Dow Jones says, you can have your steak and eat it, too.

Budget-busted home cooks are learning what creative chefs have known for a while: Inexpensive cuts of beef such as skirt, flat-iron and flank steaks can be "super tender and super juicy."

That's the verdict of David Derewicz, general manager of the Prime Rib, who served a flat-iron steak with fresh horseradish for $23.95 during the recent Restaurant Week promotion in Baltimore to what he said was a very receptive audience.

At the grocery store, where a filet might sell for $27 a pound, a quick-cooking skirt steak with a solid beef flavor goes for about $8 a pound.

"We are trying to reach out to our customers and show them how good these cuts can be," said Annapolis Whole Foods meat team boss Tom Jockel.

"If you can no longer afford loin and rib steak, these are an option," said Cree LeFavour, author of The New Steak: Recipes for a Range of Cuts Plus Savory Sides. "And if you want to buy grass-fed, you can afford to do that with a skirt steak."

These cuts, which first appeared on West Coast and Tex-Mex menus where chefs were willing to experiment with castoff cuts of meat, aren't always found in the meat case and they aren't always sold under the same names, so it might be necessary to ask the butcher.

Seared to a perfect "rare," thinly sliced and dressed with a sauce or flavored butter, these poor cousins can steal the stage from the marquee cuts of beef.


description; Flank steak has a longitudinal grain that absorbs marinades well.

cost; From $7 a pound to $14.99 a pound for grass-fed.

preparation; Marinate, or roll with spinach and cheese and grill.

flat- iron

description; Flat-iron steak is cut from the shoulder of the steer and is the second-most tender cut of beef after the tenderloin. If your butcher doesn't recognize the name, ask for a top blade steak.

cost; From $4.50 a pound to $8 a pound for grass-fed.

preparation;Pan-sear or grill and serve with a simple sauce.


description; Skirt steak, cut from the long, thin diaphragm muscle of the cow, has a rich, beefy taste.

cost; About $8 a pound, a little more for grass-fed.

preparation; Popular in fajitas.

Try it in stir-fries, too.

grilled marinated flank steak

(serves 6)

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons tomato paste

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons oregano

2 teaspoons pepper

3 pounds flank steak

Combine garlic and salt to make a paste. Add tomato paste, oil, soy sauce, oregano and pepper. Score beef against the grain on both sides. Using half of the mixture, coat one side of steak and turn it, paste side down, onto plastic wrap.

Coat second side. Cover with a second sheet of plastic wrap and seal carefully. Place on a plate (to prevent the plastic wrap from sliding off) and cover with foil. Refrigerate overnight.

Remove the foil and allow meat to come to room temperature. Remove plastic wrap and sear meat, about 6 to 8 minutes per side, on center of a very hot grill. (The tomato-paste coating does not lend this recipe to pan searing.)

Allow meat to rest for 10 minutes, then thinly slice against the grain.

Can be served warm or at room temperature. Leftovers are great cold, especially on sandwiches.

Recipe courtesy of Susan Reimer, adapted from a recipe from the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh

Per serving: 391 calories, 47 grams protein, 20 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 2 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 86 milligrams cholesterol, 667 milligrams sodium

skirt steak with pickled onions

(serves 4)

2 pounds skirt steak

1 to 2 tablespoons red-pepper flakes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

olive oil for rubbing

1 large red onion

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup red-wine vinegar

1 tablespoon raw sugar

1 tablespoon whole coriander

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil for pan-frying (optional)

Prepare steak by sprinkling with red-pepper flakes and then salting generously. Let them come to room temperature, then rub with olive oil just before cooking.

Peel and slice onion as thin as possible. Combine water, vinegar and sugar in pan over medium heat, bring to a boil and pour over the raw onions.

Crush coriander and add it and 2 tablespoons olive oil to onions. Let onions cool and drain just before serving.

Sear steaks on hottest part of the grill for 3 minutes per side. Cook for another 2 to 5 minutes over lower heat, if necessary. Skirt steak should always be rare.

If pan-frying, heat peanut oil in a heavy skillet until it is very hot. Sear the steaks for 3 minutes on each side. They should be done, but if not, cook on lower heat for 2 to 5 more minutes.

Let steak rest for at least 5 minutes, then slice against the grain. Dress with onions.

From "The New Steak" by Cree LeFavour

Per serving: 598 calories, 60 grams protein, 35 grams fat, 12 grams saturated fat, 8 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 136 milligrams cholesterol, 654 milligrams sodium

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