Flank steak is one of the most difficult thin meats to evaluate since it’s all muscle. Even prime grade has very little or no marbling—a typical indicator of quality. But these points can help steer you toward the best purchase.
- Color: Redness indicates freshness. There should be no gray or brown areas of discoloration on the meat. A bit of white fat around the tips is also a sign of freshness.
- Shape: Flank steaks should be long and narrow in either an oblong or oval shape. This means the steak was cut from a more mature animal and will be more tender.
- Moisture content: The steak’s surface should not be wet or shiny; this indicates that the meat sat too long in its juices and the blood was drawn out. “If a steak is sitting in blood in its cryovac bag, it will be devoid of juiciness when you cook it,” says Solasz. Fresh beef looks a little dry or “honed” on the surface.
- Texture: Vertical waves of stringiness running through the meat are typical of flank steak. The texture should resemble the grain of wood. When cooked, slice the steak on the bias, across the grain.
- Taste: Flank steak is best marinated, then grilled or broiled quickly. Flavor should be fresh and juicy; not gamy. Palatability is the final test: The meat should hold its flavor and not go flat the entire time you are chewing and swallowing.