What Is Skirt Steak and Why It's the Unsung Hero Cut of Meat
Skirt steak is one of those cuts that is either in your regular rotation, or not on your radar at all. If you know about it, and how to cook it, you know that it is one of the most delicious cuts imaginable, full of deep meaty flavor, and when handled properly, a terrific texture. It is also one of the healthier cuts of beef you can choose, making it an ideal cut for those who want to eat beef but keep things on the lighter side.
What is skirt steak?
If you are not familiar with skirt steak, now is the time to get to know it. An affordable cut of meat, the skirt comes from the plate section of the cow, along the front part of the belly, and is a muscle that goes around the diaphragm, hence the "skirt" name. It is a long, narrow muscle, and usually ranges from about a half an inch to three-quarters of an inch thick, making it a cut that is super fast to cook. It does best with a fast cook, so it is ideal for grilling, stovetop cooking, and stir-frying.
How to cook and serve skirt steak
While it does have some internal marbling, there is limited surface fat, so it gets a nice hard crust when cooking, but the internal fat helps to keep it moist, even when cooked to medium. A chewier cut than some, the key to skirt steak eating tender is in how you cut it after cooking. It can be tempting to cut with the grain, since the steak is so narrow, it might feel logical to cut pieces from the short strip. But that will make it chewy to eat. Instead, cut against the grain to break up the long strips of muscle and tenderize it.
Skirt steak is great for things like tacos or burritos and is often the cut used in carne asada. It is also perfect for steak sandwiches since the style makes it easy to break down into portions that fit well on buns or bread. It is also a cut that can stand up to marinades, and many different cultures use it as a marinated cut that is then grilled. One iconic dish is a Greek-style skirt steak marinated in red wine vinegar, olive oil and seasonings; many Japanese restaurants also use this cut for their teriyaki beef dishes.
How to buy skirt steak
When choosing skirt steak, assume half a pound uncooked for each person you want to serve, and look for steaks that are not pre-marinated, and are on the thicker side. Once you fall in love with beef skirt steak, ask your butcher if they ever carry "secreto," which is the same skirt steak cut, but in pork, and which can be handled in the same way.
Recipes that feature skirt steak
Here are some of our favorite recipes for this fantastic cut of beef: