Meat Cuts 101: Bavette

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My go-to cut of beef.

Cut Name:  Bavette 
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.

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Bavette pre-cleaning. The fat surrounding the muscle makes it a tough cut to remove from the muscles around it.

Bavette, sadly, winds up in grind too often. But a good butcher should be able to seam out this muscle for you if you ask; and a really great one will already have it in the case waiting for you.  Have them hit it a few times with a Jaccard tenderizer before packing it up.  This type of tenderizer, which looks like a medieval torture device, uses a set of small blades to separate grains, which tenderizes the meat without smashing it into pieces the way a traditional tenderizing mallet would.
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The Jaccard Tenderizer cuts between muscle fibers rather than smashing them. It both tenderizes and increases surface area for marinades to take hold.

Cooking a Bavette steak may seem a bit trickier than it actually is; to be delicious, this cut just needs fast, dry heat.  It’s amazing on a grill, but this time of year you can be forgiven if you forgo lighting charcoal in the Arctic vortex.  To cook on the stove, bring the meat up to room temp and then sear on a ripping hot cast iron, 2-3 minutes a side will give you a nice crust and after resting will yield a nice rare/mid rare depending on the thickness.  If you need it a little more cooked, just bang it in the oven for 5 minutes at 350.  Don’t forget a nice nugget of butter on top while it rests.

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
3tbl Oregano
Pinch of Cayenne
1tsp Kosher Salt
1/2tsp toasted cumin, ground
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2tsp sumac

Combine ingredients in a non reactive bowl and marinate Bavette overnight.

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Bavette with it’s neighboring loin muscles: Hanger on the top left, Flank being cleaned above, and tenderloin to the right.

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0 Replies to “Meat Cuts 101: Bavette

  1. Every time I see hear/a cutter talk about how nobody eats flap I immediately know he’s not from New England. Up here, people eat that stuff by the truck load. We cut ours in half, then against the grain into 2” wide strips. Around here they’re called “steak tips” and get marinated 8 ways to Sunday. Great marinade recipe, I’ll have to try it out.

    1. You know, I vaguely remember seeing steak tips in the grocery store occasionally as a kid – New York being sort of on the border of New England.

      Maybe I’ll try putting some in the case like that this weekend with the marinade, and see how the people of PA feel about it.

      1. Do it up! At our shop we also do a really nice value added pinwheel; Run a whole piece through the cuber and then layer it with whatever you like. One that sells really well is hearty brown mustard, then provolone and finally spinach. Roll it up tie it off and sell a whole ‘roast’, or by the slice. Looks excellent on display. We also do a pesto/provolone/cappicola.

    1. Hey Neal, thanks so much for that! A few friends and I working a project for later this year where we would raise, slaughter, and butcher, some of our own livestock and if that happens I’m definitely going to add a video element to document the whole thing. I’m a huge fan of Scott Rea, I think I’ve seen all of his videos.

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