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What’s the difference between skirt steak and flank steak?
While they can often be used interchangeably, flank steak and skirt steak are actually different.
Skirt steak comes from the diaphragm muscles of the cow. It has a tougher texture and more tough fibers and muscles than flank steak but has a more “beefier” flavor than flank steak. Skirt steak is best marinated and cooked on high heat, but only cooked to rare. You will find this meat most often in fajitas. Notice the grain in this picture is going horizontal. You always want to cut against the grain.
Flank steak is from the bottom abdominal area of the cow. It also has a lot of muscles and tough fibers but is also very lean and very flavorful. It’s also best marinated to break down the fibers. Cook it on high quick heat and slice very thinly against the grain (and yes it really matters for tenderness!) Notice the grain in this picture is going vertical.
So why do I use flank steak instead of skirt steak for fajitas?
Flank steak has a lower fat content (8 grams of fat vs 12 grams of fat) than skirt steak, thus the reason I like to use it for fajitas. Skirt steak may be beefier and more delicious but I think for healthy fajita purposes, flank steak is a good choice. I always try to save a few calories when I can and in this this case, I think it’s warranted. For more info on the different types of steak and their nutrition facts, check out this interesting article.
What to serve with fajitas?
Grilled or sauteed vegetables are my favorite thing to serve with steak or chicken fajitas! Choose any and all from this list:
Marinate the vegetables for at least 30 minutes (using a separate batch of marinade):
Marinate the vegetables using a separate batch of the Chipotle Beef Fajita Marinade in a plastic resealable bag for at least 30 minutes, then grill or sauté.
Or use the left over beef marinade (this way is easier):
You can also sauté the vegetables in a pan, then add a little of the left-over marinade from the steak. Just be sure to bring the marinade to a boil for a few minutes (since it was sitting in the raw beef) and cook thoroughly before serving the vegetables.
Marinate the flank steak at least 5 hours, overnight is best. Use a glass dish (not metal) or a plastic sealable bag.
Preheat grill to high heat. If your grill can do dual zones, like the Big Green Egg (like my husband’s grill) then heat one side high and on the other side use lower, indirect heat.
If it’s a gas grill, like my Baby Weber just heat it to high, then turn it down after searing.
When grill is hot, grill flank steak on each side for about 2 minutes. Then move steak to the indirect and lower heat side. Or turn your grill to low after searing if using a gas grill. Cook until desired doneness (120 to 125°F for rare, 130-140°F for medium rare, and 145°F for medium). Check temperature with a meat thermometer.
Here’s the important part, when finished, cover flank steak with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Then cut the meat against the grain. Serve with grilled vegetables and tortillas.
This grilled steak fajita recipe is made using flank steak and my Quick and Easy Chipotle Beef Marinade. It’s super simple to make, just mix the marinade ingredients, marinate for at least 5 hours and grill! Serve with my homemade tortillas, my tomatillo green salsa and grilled veggies for the perfect meal!
Place flank steak in a glass dish or plastic resealable bag.
Add the Quick and Easy Chipotle Beef Fajita Marinade.
Allow meat to marinate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
If you have a grill that has dual zones such as a Big Green Egg, preheat one part to high heat and set the other part to lower, indirect heat.
When grill is hot, drain off marinade from flank steak (save if desired for the veggies) and place on hot part of grill. Sear for about 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip over and sear for another 2-3 minutes.
Move flank steak to indirect heat and cook until desired temperature. About 145° for medium, 135-140° for medium rare and 120-125° for rare.
If you have a gas grill such as a Baby Weber, sear flank steak on high as directed above, then turn heat to low to finish up, using the temperature guide above.
Check with thermometer to make sure meat is done, remove from grill. Cover with foil for at least 15 minutes.
While waiting for meat to rest, sauté vegetables in cast iron skillet, until done on stove or in a pan on the grill. When almost done, add about 2-3 T. of left over marinade. Bring mixture to a boil for a few minutes.
Slice flank steak across the grain (this is very important). Serve flank steak with grilled vegetables and tortillas if desired.
Keep in mind, the calories and points in this recipe are estimated. It’s hard to determine how much marinade actually stays on the meat and you don’t consume all of the marinade.
1 tortilla, 1/4 of the meat and veggies4393.5 g574.7 mg16.1 g5.6 g0 g20.2 g0.9 g50.9 g136.8 mg