Grilling: Those Elusive Fajita Beef Cuts

In Ireland, it took me a long time to find the cuts of beef used for “fajitas” or carne asada tacos back in the American taco belt:

hangar steak,

flat iron steak,


chuck tenders,

skirt steak, etc.

Such cuts of beef are easy to cook on the grill, but hard to come by in some places. It’s amazing how differently various cultures cut the same side of beef. Western Ireland, where I live these days, is cattle raising country. But there is no tradition here for these cuts.

When I asked one Galway butcher if he had skirt steak, flat iron steak, or any other of the tasty cuts we use for tacos back home, he replied, “Yes I have all of those!”

Where? I asked in eager anticipation.

“Right here!” he said pointing to a large pile of beef mince–the stuff we call ground beef in the states.

That might explain why almost every menu in Ireland includes a burger, but nobody eats tacos.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled into the butcher shop at the Dunne’s Store in Jetland Shopping Center in Limerick and found every cut I was wanting–all in one place.

James Whelan Butchers supply Dunne’s Stores with dry-aged steaks, custom cut roasts and other top end specialties you don’t normally find in an Irish meat department.

The young butcher named Declan assured me that all of the Whelan butcher shops inside Dunne’s Stores carried these seldom-seen beef cuts. Which is great since Limerick is an hour drive from my house, but there are several Dunne’s Stores closer by.

Even better, he told me that James Whelan Butchers maintains a website where you can order all kinds of meats delivered to your door.

It’s not like Europeans don’t know about these kinds of cuts–bavette is the French name for what we Texans call inside skirt steak. “Bavette frites” is a menu classic at bistros and brasseries all over France. And the famous French dish “steak frites” is almost always made with flavorful but chewy cuts like flat iron or hangar steak.

The Irish produce some of the best quality beef in Europe. French and German butchers and chefs love to work with Irish beef. But here in Ireland, steaks, roasts, and hamburger meat have been the extent of the beef selection in the meat case for a very long time.

Kudos to James Whelan Butchers for delivering to Irish consumers the beef cuts the rest of the world knows and loves.