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What is Flap Meat?

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Butchers' best-kept secret / Seldom-seen flap meat is giving better-known steaks a run for the money

Thin slices of pan-roasted flap steak are served with a red wine and shallot butter sauce, and accompanied by oven-roasted tiny Yukon gold potatoes.

We don't eat a lot of beef, but this cut is appearing in Asian and Mexican markets a lot lately and I began to wonder about this flap meat.  I mean that isn't exactly a sexy name for a cut of beef.  I recently ordered a Hangar Steak and was plesantly surprise at the flavourful tender strips on my plate.  Granted I shared with my husband and brought home the leftovers which I had with a large salad the next day for lunch.  I am one of those who love cold steak.

Steak eaters are slaves to fashion. While a tender piece of filet or New York strip is timeless, restaurant goers are flocking to lesser bistro steaks such as hanger, skirt and flank.

Though fibrous and chewy, they are packed with flavor. The popularity of these steaks -- among Latin American and Asian as well as French bistro chefs -- has driven up the price, making these once lowly meats either hard to find or more expensive than their rough texture might merit.

That's where flap meat comes in. Also called flap steak, the unflatteringly named cut is similar to skirt and flank in that it comes from the less tender regions of the animal. Often cheaper than more popular cuts, this little underdog of the beef world has a wonderful meaty flavor and fine texture when prepared carefully. Niman Ranch calls its flap meat bavette, the French name for the cut. But, the word bavette can be confusing. There are several types of bavette steaks in France, including the bavette de flanchet, or flank steak. Because bavette means bib in French, sometimes the word is used as a catch-all phrase for thin steak.

"The French cut down steaks so differently and more thoroughly," says Brian Cunningham of Niman Ranch. Yet, the bavette d'aloyau, or "of the sirloin, " is what Niman and the French culinary encyclopedia "Larousse Gastronomique" (Clarkson Potter, 2001) call flap meat.

Regardless of all that, flap meat is a great choice for Mexican grilled meats, bistro steaks and stir-fries -- some Asian meat markets simply call it "stir-fry meat." And if you can't find it, other long-fibered cuts such as flank steak and skirt steak also would be lovely in the accompanying recipes, though cooking times might have to be adjusted.

Marinated flap meat, sliced and splashed with green salsa, then garnished with cilantro, turns carne asada into a whole meal.

For recipes for

Carne Asada

Bavette Steak With Beurre Rouge & Roasted Potatoes Beef Stir-Fry With Seared Broccoli & Kumquats and additional information as to sources and restaurants serving this "flap meat" in the San Francisco Bay Area:

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What Is Flap Meat?