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The best insider tips for grilling beef this summer

LOS ANGELES, CA--JUNE 13, 2019--Best beef dishes to make for fourth of July, clockwise from bottom r
Clockwise from top left: grilled skirt steak with marjoram-lime salsa, dry-aged burger with garlic mayo, Sichuan chile hanger steak, and grilled rib-eye with pistachio gremolata.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

If you think there’s nothing new to learn about steaks, think again.

I recently asked Katie Flannery, the second-generation scion of Flannery Beef, a well-regarded Bay Area beef purveyor, to share her inside-baseball beef grilling secrets. She shared four things I found to be aha moments that make me excited to get back to the grill this summer, with recipes from Katie herself and two L.A. chefs who serve Flannery’s beef on their menus.

LOS ANGELES, CA--JUNE 13, 2019--Raw Prime hangar steak, seen before grilling, photographed on a Los
Prime raw hanger steak has more marbling than regular, which makes it mellower and sweeter in flavor.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
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Her first tip was to be on the lookout for prime hanger steak. No matter how trendy the cut becomes, hanger is always more affordable than rib-eyes, strips and filets — and it’s always more flavorful. Buying it prime-grade — a subjective term that essentially means a steak that has the highest percentage of fat “marbling” throughout the meat — ratchets up the flavor even more. “All the extra fat that a prime hanger steak contains really mellows out any kind of gamey iron flavor that you might associate with hanger,” Flannerysays. “It’s hands down my favorite steak, and if you ever see it, buy it without any hesitation.”

Click here for Hinoki & the Bird chef Brandon Kida’s recipe for Sichuan Chile Hanger Steak.

LOS ANGELES, CA--JUNE 13, 2019--Prime hangar steak with Szechuan spices and citrus, from chef Brando
Thinly sliced hanger steak tossed with garlic, Sichuan and black peppercorns, and Japones chiles for a spicy, bold stir fry-like dish.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
LOS ANGELES, CA--JUNE 13, 2019--Raw skirt steak, seen before grilling, photographed on a Los Angeles
True skirt steak is thin and delicate and takes well to high-heat, quick grilling.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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Second, thinner is better with skirt steak. There are two different muscles sold as skirt steak. “There’s the ‘outside skirt steak,’ which actually hangs inside the cow’s diaphragm. This is sometimes called ‘flap’ meat and is thicker and chunkier,” Flannery says. “Then there’s the ‘inside’ skirt steak which actually hangs outside the diaphragm; this is the true skirt steak and is what you want to use. It’s thin and delicate and cooks up so fast.” In Aaron Franklin’s “Franklin Steak” (Ten Speed, 2019), he calls this same cut the “outside skirt steak,” eschewing naming conventions to be technically correct. When in doubt, look for the thinnest skirt steak at your butcher shop, and you’ll know you’ve got the right one, no matter what the label says.

Click here to get the recipe for Skirt Steak with Marjoram and Lime Salsa.

LOS ANGELES, CA--JUNE 13, 2019--Skirt steak with marjoram and lime salsa, from Los Angeles Times foo
Skirt steak is seasoned simply with salt and pepper and served with a salsa made with fresh marjoram and lots of lime juice.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
LOS ANGELES, CA--JUNE 13, 2019--A raw cut of aged ribeye, seen before grilling, photographed on a Lo
Bone-in 3-inch-thick rib-eyes cut from the chuck end of the cow have proportionally more of the rib-eye "cap" muscle, the most flavorful muscle. Flannery Beef's Jorge steak is exactly that.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Third, when you’re splurging on a rib-eye steak, you want it cut from the front, or chuck, end of the rack — because it contains the largest proportion of what Flannery says is the tastiest part of the cow. (Flannery’s custom-cut 3-inch-thick bone-in rib-eye “Jorge” steaks are such steaks.) “Because of where we cut it, each steak has more of the spinalis dorsi muscle, or ‘rib cap’ in the steak,” Katie explains. “This muscle is often called the ‘deckle,’ but that’s not right. It’s its own thing and gets the most worked-out on the cow, so it’s also the most flavorful.” To get this cut from your local butcher, ask them to cut two 3-inch-thick steaks, including the first two rib bones, from the chuck end of the rib primal (the whole cow section where all rib-eye steaks are cut from).

Click here for Yours Truly chef Vartan Abgaryan’s recipe for Grilled Rib-Eye Steak With Pistachio Gremolata and Charred Balsamic Broccolini.

LOS ANGELES, CA--JUNE 13, 2019--Aged ribeye steak with a side of sea salt, pistachio gremolata, char
Bone-in rib-eye steak served with gremolata and sweet, smoky balsamic vinaigrette.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
LOS ANGELES, CA--JUNE 13, 2019--Raw dry-aged burger , seen before grilling, photographed on a Los An
Burger patties made with ground trimmings of dry-aged beef fat have all the flavor of an aged steak and make for an excellent burger, dressed simply with cheese and pepper mayonnaise.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
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Finally, she advises adding ground dry-aged beef scraps to your burgers. When I saw dry-aged beef being used in burgers on restaurant menus, I thought supremely pricey dry-aged steaks were being ground up for hamburger meat. (The price of the burgers usually supported that idea.) That’s not the case, according to Flannery; instead, most often, fresh ground meat is mixed with dry-aged steak trimmings, mostly the super-flavorful fat. If your butcher doesn’t sell a “dry-aged” burger meat mix, ask if they will sell and grind their dry-aged beef scraps for you, which you can then mix into freshly ground beef cuts at a ratio of 30% fat to 70% meat.

Click here for Katie Flannery’s recipe for Dry-Aged Burger With Gruyère and Homemade Garlic Mayonnaise.

LOS ANGELES, CA--JUNE 13, 2019--A dry-aged burger with gruyere, homemade mayonnaise and potato bun,
Dry-aged beef scraps are ground with fresh meat to make the best-tasting burger patties, dressed simply with Gruyère cheese and homemade black pepper and garlic mayonnaise.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)


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