The Bavette Steak, also known as the Flap Steak, is one of those steaks that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves. That’s a shame since this steak is affordable, delicious and, when sliced against the grain, incredibly tender.
At first glance the bavette doesn’t seem like much to look at. It looks pretty similar to a skirt steak.
But if you take a closer look, literally, you will see something interesting. The grain structure of the muscle fibers on this cut of meat is incredibly loose and open.
The open grain structure has two benefits.
- It helps make the steak incredibly tender since the muscle fibers are not tightly bound to each other.
- The openness lets this steak really soak up marinades.
Let’s look at a few ways of cooking this steak.
How To Cook a Bavette Steak
This cut of beef is extremely versatile and is a family favorite at my house. The beef is easy to cook, tastes great, and does not need to rest after cooking so you can literally be ready to eat in just a few minutes! Sometimes I grill the steak after it has marinated a few hours, other times I sear it in a cast iron pan on after cooking it sous vide and sometimes I just slice it up and use it in a beef stir fry.
Technique #1: Marinated and Seared
A traditional and simple way of cooking these steaks is to soak them in a marinade and then cook them quickly over searing heat. I like to use a charcoal grill for this but you could also use the broiler in your oven or a scorching cast iron skillet.
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Combine the marinade ingredients and let the steak marinate in the refrigerator for 1-4 hours.
This cut of beef is usually pretty thin so I like to grill them directly over the charcoal where it is extra hot. If you are using a gas grill just turn all of your burners up to high.
The brown sugar in the marinade helps these steaks take on a beautiful surface char. I flip the steak every minute and grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 130F. This steak took about seven minutes.
Make sure you slice the steak against the grain and you will have an incredibly tender flavor explosion.
Using an Oven Broiler
If you want to use your oven’s broiler instead of a grill then place the meat on a wire rack supported on a cookie sheet pan. Use the thickest cookie sheet pan you have as thin ones can get a little warped under the broiler.
Set you oven rack to its highest setting and turn the broiler on.
Place the meat directly under the broiler and let the meat sear. You will want to flip the steak every minute and keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get burned under the intense heat. How long it will take for the steak to reach 130F will depend upon the heat of your broiler as well as the distance from the broiler heating element to the meat. Figure on this taking between 7-12 minutes.
Using a Cast Iron Skillet
If you want to cook these in a hot cast iron skillet then you will need to fist cut the steak into several 6 inch pieces. A single steak is too large to fit into a standard 10 inch cast iron skillet.
The advantage of cutting the large piece of meat into smaller sections is you can cook each piece perfectly. This cut is thicker in the middle than on the ends so when you cook it whole the ends tend to get overcooked. By cutting it into sections you can get a perfect medium rare for all of the meat.
You will need to put a little peanut oil, beef fat or other high smoke point oil into the skillet to help with browning and even heat distribution. I absolutely love to use trimmed brisket fat for this exact purpose! Heat the cast iron until the oil just starts to smoke and then add the meat. Flip the meat every minute until it reaches Medium Rare.
When the first piece is finished transfer it to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm while you cook the remaining pieces. You are probably going to need your stove’s ventilation fan on for this as you can anticipate some smoke!
Technique #2: Sous Vide Fajitas
If you don’t feel like grilling then you can always bust out your sous vide machine. Sous Vide is an incredible simple way of cooking that involves simmering food in a warm water bath while sealed in a plastic bag. Sous Vide lets you cook a piece of meat for a long time for increased tenderness. Even though you cook the meat for a long time it will not overcook because the meat can never get hotter than the temperature of the water bath.
For these fajitas the steak was seasoned with salt and pepper, vacuum sealed in a food grade plastic bag and simmered at 130F for two hours. After two hours I took the steak out of the bag, dried it off with paper towels and seared it in a scorching cast iron skillet for a minute per side.
When I sliced this steak up against the grain it was so tender it almost fell apart.
The rest of the ingredients were pretty standard, toasted corn tortillas with onions, peppers and some salsa verde (here is how to make salsa verde from scratch). These great and easy fajitas were some of the best that I have had in years.
Just freaking amazing.
Technique #3: Steak and Broccoli Stir Fry
Last up is a simple stir fry that literally just takes a couple of minutes to cook.
I sliced up a pound and a half of steak (again, across the grain!) and did a stir fry with some broccoli, mushrooms, onions and peppers.
I took the steak well past Medium Rare during the stir fry but it didn’t get tough. If anything the slices got even more tender and fall apart delicious.
You can make a fine stir fry with sirloin or flank but you will make an AMAZING stir fry using bavette.
What Is a Bavette Steak?
The bavette is a cut from the flank subprimal of a steer. The name of the muscle is Obliquus abdominis and it gets the secondary name of “flap steak” because it hangs off the bottom of the flank as an odd flap of meat. The word “bavette” is of French origin and means “bib”.
The cut is located directly below the skirt steak and is in close proximity to the flank steak. These are all abdominal muscles and the flavor profile and grain structure is similar between all three cuts.
Here is an absolutely stunning video from The Healthy Butcher YouTube channel that breaks down how to butcher the flank subprimal and exactly how the bavette, flank and skirt steaks are related. If you want to get serious about your steak education then you really need to watch the video.
The bavette is an excellent substitute for either flank or skirt steak. One of the reason that the bavette isn’t that well known is because there are only 2-4 pounds of this cut on a steer. This is one of those “Butcher’s Cuts” that can be hard to find.
Where to Buy?
I am pretty lucky since my local Costco is currently carrying these steaks. However, like I mentioned before, Costco got me hooked on tri tip and then cut off my supply. It is always a good idea to have a backup butcher.
There is a butcher shop in Nashville, Porter Road, that buys humanely raised whole cattle from small family farms and sells prime cuts like bavettes. The shop only process a dozen or so heads of beef a week and custom cuts like the bavette sell out fast.
This pastured raised beef typically comes from Black or Red Angus, is dry aged for a minimum of 14 days, and is shipped fresh.
Snake River Farms
This beef is a cross between Black Angus heifers and Wagyu bulls to create a breed known as American Wagyu. Traditional Wagyu beef is characterized by intense fat marbling that creates a richness of flavor. It turns out that while Wagyu is praised and loved by culinarians the richness is a little too much for many people who are accustomed to the bold beefy flavor of American Angus.
The American Wagyu breed is designed to give you some of the richness associated with Japanese cattle while retaining the beefiness of American cattle. This beef is wet aged for 21 days and ships frozen.