Beef Cut Correction: Skirt and Flank

It’s been a couple of months since I held my 4th annual beef draft.  The event has grown quite a bit since the first time I wrote about it, having graduated all the way from 1/4 of a steer (in 2007) to a steer and a half in 2010!  Moreover, the steers have gotten larger, too—perhaps as a result of having been sourced from a different farm; 25% of the 2007 steer amounted to about 80 pounds of beef; 150% of the 2010 steer came to  about 525.  That’s a lot of beef:

One constant source of wonder and confusion comes in terms of the availability of different cuts.  You can’t get every kind of steak from a single steer.  Some popular cuts are mutually exclusive: for instance, T-bone steaks and porterhouse steaks incorporate the filet mignon: you can get filets or T-bones and Porterhouses, but you can’t get all three.

Moreover, the grilling and roasting portions of the steak make up a minority of the beast.  Much more of the beef comes in tougher cuts better suited to braising, or in the form of ground beef.  Thus, when selection time comes around, it can be a challenge to identify and select the cut that most appeals to you from the available selection.

Much of the selection process happens prior to the beef shareholders’ seeing the beef, though—when I communicate with the packing company and provide them with instructions for how I would like the beef divided.  I do my best to make certain that the shareholders will get the best variety possible.  Until this year, though, I had been operating under the false assumption that skirt steaks and flank steaks are mutually exclusive, coming from different ways of processing the same cut of beef.

This was wrong.  The flank steak, as it turns out, comes from the belly of the steer; whereas the skirt steak comes from the steer’s diaphragm muscle.  Though these two cuts come from the same region of the animal, as they come from different muscles, it is possible to get both cuts.

I have already spoken to the packing house and have had them make a change to my standing cutting instructions, so next year, shareholders can anticipate having 2 skirt steaks per full steer available.

Mea Culpa.

Photo credits: Jim Sharrard.  Photos appeared originally on

One Response to “Beef Cut Correction: Skirt and Flank”

  1. jim Says:

    Anyone looking for the original posting can get there directly via

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