I’m the chef and owner of a steakhouse in Dallas, so you’d probably assume that filet, sirloin, and rib-eye are what I usually eat at home. Not so. I love those cuts for sure, but skirt steak—easy, quick, and tasty—is often what I eat for dinner.
Skirt steak is a long belt of meat from the belly of the steer. It’s a thin cut with a visible grain, sort of like a loosely woven version of flank steak. You might not reach for this cut because you’re probably used to buying more familiar types of steak. But skirt steak is a big treat when you cook it right. Sear or grill it quickly, slice it thin, and you’ll have a lean, juicy steak with plenty of flavor.
Fatty-looking skirt steak is lean underneath
In the grocery store, look for cuts labeled “beef plate skirt steak” or just “skirt steak.” Be sure to buy only choice or prime grades. Steaks labeled “select” tend to be less tasty and much tougher. A 1-lb.skirt steak will feed four people; there’s little waste.
For good flavor, look for a fairly fatty piece of skirt steak. Underneath that top layer of fat, which you’ll cut off, the meat will be quite lean but marbled with a few small channels of fat. Leave them be—they’ll melt away during cooking, and they’ll go a long way toward good taste.
After you trim the fat from the skirt steak, cut it into equal portions. This makes pounding easier.
Trim the top layer of fat from the steak. Under that fat lies a lean, tasty piece of meat. The little channels of fat will melt away, leaving behind lots of flavor.
Slice the steak into even portions. Smaller pieces are easier to pound and to slice for serving.
Pound skirt steak into evenly shaped pieces
Pound the steak 1/4 inch thick. Pounding helps even out the meat so it cooks faster and is easier to slice. It will be more tender, too.
Skirt is a long, tapered piece of meat, and pounding it will give it a thinner, more uniform shape that’s easier to cook and to slice. Pound the meat with the flat side of a meat mallet until the steak is about 1/4 inch thick. That may seem thin, but the steak pulls back together as it cooks. Pounding also tenderizes the meat by breaking down connective tissue.
Scoring after pounding is another way to tenderize, and it keeps the meat from shrinking too much as it cooks. The downside of scoring is that you may end up with a less juicy piece of steak because the cuts will let more juices out. To score, etch shallow, crosshatched cuts in the steak about 1/2 inch apart with the tip of a sharp knife.