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How to cook a skirt steak. The fajita steak!
long and skinny skirt steak
Skirt steak for fajitas
If you're determined to really make a great home fajita dinner, it's worth it to take the time to source a skirt steak. The skirt steak is a long primal cut from the belly of the cow, and is quite narrow, coarsely grained, very flavorful…and also one of the toughest of all the cuts of beef.
Skirts steaks are normally sold well trimmed, but if you see that your steak still has some of the silver skin attached, you will need to remove this before marinating and cooking. The silver skin is a plastic like un-chewable membrane, and it can be cut and then peeled off.
Skirt steak works great as a fajita steak, especially when marinated and cut across the grain. Because the steak is so tough you would never serve it as a whole steak, but when you slice it thinly across the grain you effectively mechanically tenderize the steak, and because the grains are quite course, it becomes relatively tender and chewable.
The skirt steak is a heavily used muscle, and as such it possess great beefy flavor; and because it is also rarely even as thick as an inch in diameter, it takes to marinades very well. One problem with using marinades to tenderize for many cuts is that a marinade only really tenderizes the outer ¼ inch or so of the meat, but because the skirt steak is so thin, this isn’t really a problem.
For best results, marinate the steak overnight (or for at least 6 hours) a zip lock bag is a great receptacle for both marinade and steak, and allows for even coverage over the entire portion of the steak. A common fajita marinade will make use of soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, salt and olive oil, but individual and regional variations are the rule and not the exception.
Dry the meat very well before grilling (to get a nice brown crust) and because the steak is relatively thin, you'll need to cook it uncovered and over very high heat. A couple of minutes per side should be sufficient for medium rare. Always let rest for at least five minutes, lest all the flavorful juices should run out.
Cut diagonally on a 45 degree angle against the grain, and enjoy with fresh flour tortillas, sautéed onions and sweet peppers, fresh tomato cilantro salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Heaven!
The flank steak is a common substitute for the skirt steak in fajitas. The flank deserves similar treatment, but is not quite as coarsely grained or as tough has the skirt, and many would also say that it's not as flavorful.