In today’s post, were grilling Skirt Steak. I’m gonna give you the low down on what Skirt Steak is, how to trim it and a great way to serve it. Let’s get cooking!
Many of you are who eat beef may think you know what you like as far as what you want to order at your favorite steakhouse. I’m sure many of you think grass-fed is better than grain-fed, or even more, grain/grass-finished. But in an upcoming post, I’m going to do a complete breakdown of cuts of beef, grain vs. grass fed, and things you never thought to you knew. Most of which will include telling you what you think is wrong, and you know what, knowing you are wrong is the first step in learning something new. All you gotta do is trust your chef.
Skirt steak is something you may associate with a cheap, tougher cut of meat with little marbling, but the reason that you will always see it at the butcher shop (and you should be going to a butcher shop and not your grocery store for the best meats) is because of the flavor. Beef is an interesting animal. Lots of the things we think about are not as obvious. Cuts with less meet are often the most “meaty” flavor whereas the most classic cuts like Strip rely on their marbling and fat content to give them flavor. This becomes a more interesting conversation when weighing the advantages of grass vs. grain fed beef. But that’s another conversation for another day.
Let’s break this down into 3 easy parts.
Location of the cut: Skirt steak is a cut of muscle along the diaphragm from a region called the “plate” (highlighted below in blue). Due to the location and its use, it is very lean and fibrous.
Flavor & Tenderness: Skirt has a very strong “beefy” flavor that is often lost on some of the fattier cuts that we usually order at restaurants like Strip. This cut is less tender and has more muscle fibers making it a bit chewier, but to some people, a bit of chew gives the cut a bit more mouthfeel. Not everyone wants to feel like they are eating a super tender piece of meat, believe it or not, they just think they do because everyone said it’s better. Some people like caviar, some people thinks its salty, fishy and gross. Because of the more tough makeup of the cut, it is advised to only cook this cut rare or medium-rare at the most, any more and your jaws will be getting one hell of a workout. If done correctly, you will have something beautiful.
Cooking: Skirt holds on to marinades very well and I would advise you use one. I advise marinating for about an hour then lightly brushing off the extra marinade before cooking because it is very likely to burn. When considering how to cook, I would suggest high heat very quickly, either pan searing or grilling. It can also be slow-cooked, braised or stir-fried. But for me, its best in done in the pan, when the outside is perfectly crispy and the inside is on the medium side of medium-rare.
Preparing: When you go to the butcher and ask for the Skirt you will see it one of two ways: trimmed or untrimmed. In an untrimmed cut, the outside will be covered in fat and silver skin which is the membrane around the meat. Often time it will be reduced to a minimal amount, but it is essential that if you are buying it untrimmed that you trim it down to remove excess fat and remove the silver skin. The silver skin has a very bad taste and texture that will really wear your jaw out if not removed. For super cheap eating styles like stir-fry or fajitas, don’t kill yourself with trimmed, if grilling or pan searing, I would definitely advise you trim the fat and silver skin down. If you buy an trimmed piece (or if you are your butcher are on good terms, another important part of buying meats), you may be able to ask your butcher to trim an untrimmed piece down. If it’s already trimmed of fat and silver skin, then it’s ready to be marinated and cooked. For information and a step by step guide on how to trim skirt, head over to Seriouseats.com for the best way to trim your Skirt.
For this recipe, we are going to grill it on a cast iron grill grate on the stove. Living in an apartment kind of limits many people’s movement and practicality so even I had to do this in an industrial kitchen at culinary school just to avoid setting off my smoke alarms (cooking steaks will create smoke in your house/apartment so if you don’t want smoke, don’t cook steaks). We’re going to grill it to create these really nice cross-hatch marks, slice it on its bias and serve it with a smooth Chimichurri sauce. First were going make the sauce; half of the sauce will be used for marinading and half will be used for plating. The key to this sauce is to use all fresh herbs, not dried.
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp/ salt
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves
- 1 shallot
- 1 jalapeño, seeded
- 2 cups cilantro
- 1 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
- Separate into two containers
After your Skirt is prepped, cut it into portion sizes that are about 8 oz. I recognize that some people think an 8 oz steak is small, and actually, this will decrease in size slightly as it cooked too, but 8 oz of meat is still 2 oz more than a recommended serving size. While Americans have become highly anesthetized to the outrageous portions of meat we consume, it’s important to understand that a large portion of meat shouldn’t outweigh a great quality cut of meat. In my opinion, 8 oz is a great size for skirt steak, especially when eating it like a traditional steak rather than fajitas or stir-fry.
Grilled Skirt Steak
- 1 Skirt Steak, trimmed
- Chimichurri sauce
- salt & pepper
- Canola oil
- Trim the steak
- Place steak in marinade and let sit for an hour, flip every 15-20 min to evenly coat steak.
- Preheat cast iron grill plate on a stove to high heat and clean with a bristle brush and water soaked towel. *Note: This will take a long time and will make your cooking space very hot, if you have a traditional grill, use it, if you only have a stove top, ake sure you have proper ventilation or pray your smoke alarms don’t go off, either is equally acceptable.
- After an hour of marinading, remove the steaks and wipe off the excess chimichurri. Any excess sauce will burn, turn black, and be bitter. A small amount will always stick as it has begun to penetrate the fibers of the meat (*this is a good thing).
- After wiping excess marinade, oil each steak with a small amount of canola oil and generously salt and pepper (*Note: don’t be afraid of the salt, it will give the steak more flavor and help create crust).
- When the grill pan is brought up to temperature, lay the steak on a 45° angle so the grill line can form. After 2-3 minutes, turn 90° to create cross-hatch marks and cook another 2-3 min. Flip after 2-3 min., then remove. (*Note: the side with the cross-hatch marks will be the presentation side and the side with no cross-hatch marks will be laid on the bottom of the plate.)
- Remove the steak and let rest 1/2 of the total time it spent cooking (general meat resting rule). For this steak, because it was cooked between 6-9 min., let the meat rest on a cooling rack for 3-4 1/2 min. before moving it to a clean cutting board to be carved.
Plating: To plate the steak, remove the steak from the cooling rack and bring to a clean cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut against the grain in 1 in. thick slices on a bias. Expose the meat and gently fan out so you can see the interior of the steak. Using a large spoon take the remaining chimichurri, spoon sauce in an inward spiral. Lay the steak gently over the center from 9 o’clock to 2 o’clock.
With this easy recipe, you can easily wow your friend at the next BBQ or dinner party with your culinary finesse. Sometimes we often get caught up with getting the most recognizable and name-worthy cuts like NY Strip or Dry-Aged steak or grass-fed or “those hipsters with the beards and tattoos of meat cleavers in that neighborhood you never heard of who sell ethical foie gras” (you know who you are). Sometimes you just need a basic cut of beef and the know-how of how to prepare it best.
When you see something delicious, it doesn’t mean you can’t make it or find something better. Sometimes it’s easier than you think. Want to see more? like this post and hit subscribe! Don’t forget to check out our other social media accounts and comment below!
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