Is there ever a bad time for tacos? We tend to think that there is not. While you can put almost anything in a taco -- there are delicious examples of taco artistry featuring everything from chicken to mushrooms to hearts of palm -- it's hard to argue with steak tacos (at least for meat eaters). But not all steaks are the same, and you can't just pick any steak cut and throw it into a taco, expecting it to be delicious.
Which, then, are the best steak choices for taco night? There are actually a whole bunch of answers to this question, but they all follow a similar theme: Any cut of meat that resembles skirt steak, meaning cuts like flank steak, flat iron steak, and hanger steak (in addition to skirt steak itself), are ideal choices for taco meat. These are typically cuts of steak that can get substituted for one other anyway, so it makes sense that if you're going to go for one, the others would also work well as a taco choice.
Read more: The 13 Best Steaks For Grilling
Low-And-Slow Cooked Steaks Are Great For Tacos
Though no two steak cuts are exactly the same, there are a bunch that have similar characteristics. Such is the case here, where we're talking about skirt, flank, flat iron, and hanger. Each of these cuts has its strengths, but their commonality is that they're generally thin, affordable cuts that will give you a satisfying, beefy flavor. When given the proper time to tenderize, each cut is going to give you an appealing texture and a strong beefy flavor without breaking the bank. It's important to note that all of these cuts of meat shouldn't be cooked past medium rare, as they'll start to get tough and chewy.
Skirt steak and flat steak are often interchangeable, belonging to a group known as "flat steaks." Skirt steak comes from a cow's diaphragm, meaning it's a naturally tough muscle, so cooking it low and slow is a must. A skirt steak's higher fat content helps create a rich, beefy flavor, meaning it's not going to get overwhelmed in an extremely filled taco. Flank steak, meanwhile, comes from a cow's abdominal muscle; it's tougher than, say, filet mignon, but not as tough as skirt steak, and it's typically slightly more expensive than skirt steak. Because this area of the cow gets a lot of blood flow, flank steak also provides a beefy flavor, though less so than the more fatty skirt steak. As long as you're dealing with a less noisy taco (in terms of the number of ingredients), it's a great choice.
Slightly Pricier Cuts Of Meat That Work Well For Tacos
If you're willing and able to spend a little bit more, there are a couple of other cuts to make note of here. Flat iron steak is a recent cut (it only started to be considered a viable cut of steak in the early 2000s) that comes from a cow's shoulder blade. It's marbled with fat, making for a cut of steak that comes out tender and full of flavor. All of the meats mentioned here take well to marinades, but this is particularly true for flat iron steak, which tends to strongly absorb the flavors it's cooked with. You can either slow-cook this cut or throw it on the grill after marinating.
Then we come to hanger steak, which might be the prize of the entire discussion. It's a tender and flavorful cut, coming from the belly of the cow, and is a favorite of steak aficionados everywhere. Hanger steak is also called "butcher's steak," as butchers were known to generally keep this great cut for themselves. Hanger steak is unique from the rest of these cuts in that it doesn't require as much of a low-and-slow cooking method, due to it being richer in fat with less connective tissue than the others. In the case of hanger steak, you generally just want to marinate it, then sear it and let it rest. You may also want to remove the hard white membrane that typically runs through the middle of the steak, if it hasn't already been removed.
Ultimately, while you can make steak tacos with any cut of meat, these cuts in particular are more affordable options that are going to give you the best results. Just consider what else is going into the taco and make sure to cook the meat the right way, and your taco night is sure to be a huge hit.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.