Flank steak is one of the best meats available for you to put on the grill. It is a cheaper option than others, but it is also rich in beefy flavors. Let’s look at flank steak in more detail and see how London broil is not a particular cut of meat but rather a method of cooking certain steaks, including flank steak.
Flank steak and London broil are often referred to as the same type of meat. Many supermarkets and butchers will label flank steak and similar steaks as London broil. London broil is a cooking method considered to be the best way to prepare this meat, and it is also used in London to cook flank steak.
Flank steak and the other steaks labeled as London broil are all inexpensive cuts of meat that do exceptionally well with marinades and do not do well with over grilling.
It’s essential to cook the meat fast, and the grill should be hot to get the most out of such a cut of beef.
Flank Steak Vs. London Broil
What Is Flank Steak?
Flank steak, also called bavette or London broil, is a flat steak cut from the underbelly and right behind the cow’s chest. When removed from the underbelly, it is removed in one flat piece of meat, ready to be placed on the grill as it is, or you can cut it into separate pieces of steak.
The flank steak is a thin, flat steak that grills fast. It will be ready to enjoy in under 15 minutes if cooked correctly. However, it’s important not to overcook it.
Though it is a forgiving steak, you still want the flank steak to offer the best that it can, which is juicy, beefy goodness, which is often lost when it is overcooked.
What Is London Broil?
London broil isn’t actually a particular cut of meat. Instead, London broil is a cooking method used to prepare any type of meat that is lean and chewy; the London broil cooking method will sometimes add some extra flavor to the meat.
The word “London broil” can often be found on the labeling of flank steak, top blade, or top round steak.
All of these meats often require exceptional patience, from marinating and preparing the meat before it finally goes to the grill.
Because London broil steaks are lean and often tough and chewy cuts of meat, they do not have the same marbling inside that makes the meat juicy even when well done. In addition, the flank steak and other similar leaner cuts of beef do not retain their moisture, so it is best to grill them to medium-rare.
Other Steaks That Are Often Labeled As London Broil
We now know that London broil is a method of cooking different meats to make them more tender. Because of this connection to tough meat, the term “London broil” may also refer to any meat that does well with marinades and should be seared on the grill at high heat.
There are basically three different steaks that do well with marinades and get labeled as London broil. They are the flank steak, top round, and top blade steak.
But how on earth can you know which is which? How do you know if you are actually purchasing a flank steak or one of the other classic London broil steaks?
The flank steak is one thin and lean piece of meat. The muscle fibers on flank steak run cross-grain through the meat. For the longest time, flank steak was known as the butcher’s cut because it is cheap and full of flavor, and for many years people did not recognize it as a steak.
It was not popular for cooking on the grill, so only butchers knew what a treasure the flank steak truly was.
Luckily the times have changed, and we can now truly appreciate the value of our foods.
Let’s break flank steak down so it’s easier to know it from the other meats often called “London broil:”
- Flank steak is one long piece of steak (though it can be cut smaller if you prefer)
- It is about five to six inches wide.
- Flank steak is about one inch thick.
- The flank steak weighs about one to two pounds.
- You can identify flank steak by the long, vertical fibers that run through it.
Top Blade Steak
The top blade steak is a cut of meat from the chuck primal. Though this steak is more tender than the lean flank steak, the top blade steak has a connective tissue line that runs vertically through the meat.
This connective tissue needs to be broken down during preparation and cooking, making this steak much more tender.
To identify top blade steak, compared to the other London broil steaks, look out for these features:
- Top blade steak is already cut into individual steaks.
- It has a line in the middle that runs straight through each steak in a vertical line. This line is not fat; it is connective tissue, which is much harder to render down than fat.
- Each individual steak is much smaller than the flank steak.
Top Round Steak
The top round is a cut from the round primal. The cut comes from the rump and hind legs of the cow.
In other words, this is also a hard-working muscle, making for a tougher and leaner cut of meat. As we know by now, this makes the London broil cooking method ideal for a cut like the top round steak.
Usually, you will only find the top round as a roast, but if you happen to find the top round cut into steaks, this is how you know what it looks like:
- The top round is often labeled as the “eye of round” steak.
- The meat will be extremely lean and consist of small cuts of steak with almost zero fatty content and no connective tissue.
Choosing The Best Flank Steak For London Broil
When choosing meat, we all want the best of what the supermarket or butchery has to offer. But how do you know that you are picking the best meat from the coolers?
The tips below will help ensure you’re getting the best meat for your money.
- First of all, look for meat that is vibrantly pink to red.
- Meat that looks brown has been sitting out for a while and isn’t the freshest option in the cooler.
- The steak should be slightly moist and clammy but not wet.
- The meat must be firm and cold to the touch.
- Avoid any torn or ripped packages.
- Avoid packages that have liquid at the bottom of the tray.
Now you know that flank steak and London broil could be the same cut of steak, but there can also be a difference; this is why we should get to know our food.
Once we can spot the difference between the steak options labeled as London broil, we can better understand how to prepare the best steaks and get the absolute best results from our meat choices.
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