NAMP Guide Number: 156
Muscle: Obliquus abdominis externus
Other Names: Sirloin Flap, Flap Meat, bavette d’aloyau, Vachio, Ranchera para Asar
Best Cooking Method: Hot and Fast. Marinate for maximum flavor.
I’m the kind of guy who has lots of favorites; favorite color (green), favorite professional cyclist (Nairo Quintana), favorite foreign currency (Swedish Krona). But the concept of having a favorite steak always seemed to elude me - I can be steadfast in my preference for almost anything else, but downright mercurial when it comes to the question of which particular slab of meat I prefer to throw on my grill. At any given time I might say my favorite steak is hanger, or maybe a top round London broil, or maybe a porterhouse - thick cut Fiorentina style. But if the real proof comes from observing which particular cut I cook most often, there is one clear winner of the “Bill’s favorite steak” contest: Bavette.
Bavette, meaning ‘bib’ is the French word for a cut which is (unfortunately) known in english as “flap meat.” Either name works as a pretty accurate description of the cut, which is somewhat semi-circular, and tapers slightly to a thin tip. With its coarse, long grains, and tendency to include a decent amount of inner-muscular fat, the Bavette is very similar to that other French bistro favorite: Hanger. However, the Bavette has Hanger beat on yield; where one steer might have just a pound and a half of Hanger, a full Bavette can weigh up to 3 and a half pounds, and you’ll get two per steer.
Coming from the belly of the beast, as it were, this cut is attached to a flap of meat and fat connected to the loin - the loin being where you get all the good stuff like NY Strips, Tenderloins, and T-Bones. The loin reaches from the back, where you get your Strips, all the way underneath to the belly, where the Bavette is located, along with the carne asada favorite Flank steak. Back in the day butchers occasionally cut T-Bones and Porterhouse steaks with this long flap still attached. Their aim was to add a few ounces on the scale, but many people recognized this interesting and flavorful muscle as a standout all its own.
Bavette steak has a coarse grain structure which lends a bit of toothsome chew to the cut. For this reason many chefs will marinate it before cooking, which will help to further tenderize the meat, while also adding flavor.
Toasted Cumin and Garlic Marinade
(adapted from a recipe by Roy Choi)
14 Cloves garlic smashed
1/2 onion sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
Pinch of Cayenne
1tsp Kosher Salt
1/2tsp toasted cumin, ground
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Combine ingredients in a non reactive bowl and marinate Bavette overnight.