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How to cook skirt steak: The tips you need

You really can't go wrong with this cut of steak.

Skirt steak
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There are a few rare items in the culinary world that are both mouthwateringly divine while still being relatively affordable. In a world where grocery store prices are higher than ever, it is increasingly seldom that one can find a delicious steak behind the butcher counter and still have a few dollars left in the budget for a good bottle of wine. Thankfully, skirt steak is one of those precious gifts.

This buttery, budget-friendly cut of steak comes from the diaphragm muscle of the cow and is a bit oddly shapen in its long and lean cut. It can contain some connective tissue (otherwise known as silver skin) that should be trimmed before cooking, but doesn’t otherwise require any special preparations other than a good marinade.

Quick-cooking and extremely simple to prepare, this delicious cut of steak can be on your table in just a few minutes with nothing but a fast flash in a pan. This is the best way to prepare skirt steak.

How to prep skirt steak

Skirt steak
Emrevonal/Pixabay

Skirt steak is a piece of beef that absolutely must be marinated before cooking. It is a delicious cut, to be sure, but it is also a tough one. A good marinade will help to both tenderize the proteins inside the meat and flavor your steak however you’d like.

Marinades contain three main components – oil, acid, and flavoring agents. Within these parameters, feel free to release your inner chef and look to your dish for flavor inspiration. Is there a particular flavor profile or theme you’re going for? If spicy skirt steak fajitas are on the menu, you may want to use lime juice as your acid and throw a few jalapenos in the mix. If you’re going for a more herbaceous and bright flavor, lemon juice and a handful of fresh, green herbs are delicious additions.

We recommend marinating skirt steak for at least 30 minutes but no longer than 24 hours. Because this cut is so thin, it will easily break down and become unpleasantly mushy and soft after marinating too long. We’ve found that 8-12 hours is the perfect sweet spot.

How to cook skirt steak

Sliced steak on cutting board
Emerson Vieira/Unsplash / Unsplash

With a piece of meat as thin as a skirt, there is a very small window of cooking time to achieve a perfectly seared outer crust with a beautifully medium-rare inside. The best way to cook skirt steak is quickly over very high heat. With a cast iron pan, you’ll have more control over the heat, but skirt steak is also beautiful when grilled. Just be sure to pay close attention so that you don’t overcook your skirt.

Since skirt steak should always be cooked after a swim in a good marinade, there isn’t a need to use extra oil in your pan or on your grill grates—the oil from the marinade will get the job done. Just be sure to let any extra marinade drip off the skirt steak before placing it on the heat. If there is too much extra marinade on your steak or in your pan, you run the risk of burning your marinade and setting off the smoke alarm.

Once your skirt steak has hit the heat, allow it to cook without moving it for about two minutes. This will give it time to develop a golden crust. Flip the steak and continue to cook for another two minutes or so, depending on your desired doneness, keeping in mind that this steak will cook very quickly. The whole process shouldn’t take more than four or five minutes for a perfect medium rare.

As always, be sure to rest your steak on a cutting board for a bit before slicing to prevent the juices from running out of your steak. Due to the thinness of skirt steak, you needn’t rest it for more than five minutes, but it’s still a very important step to maintain a juicy, tender steak.

Skirt steak recipe

Sliced steak on plate
RitaE/Pixabay

With a recipe this delicious, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have any leftovers, but if you do, skirt steak is absolutely incredible the next day.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a large zip-top bag, combine all ingredients, making sure to coat the steak well.
  2. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  3. Place the skirt steak in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Cook for about two minutes per side, depending on desired doneness.
  4. Rest the skirt steak for at least five minutes before slicing and serving.
Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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