A skirt steak is a cut of beef taken from the cow’s short plate area, which is at the belly’s front, starting behind the front leg. It is typically a long, thin piece of meat, forming the part of the diaphragm muscle that is attached to the 6th through 12th ribs, and gets its name because it hangs underneath the animal, like a skirt.
Skirt steak is a good cut of meat in terms of flavour, having a stronger, beefier taste than most other cuts of beef, and it also has a looser structure than many other cuts, which makes it great for absorbing marinades. Skirt steak does contain a lot of connective tissue, however, so it is not the most tender cut of meat, but as long as you cook it properly, you can enjoy all that delicious, beefy flavour without having to worry about your meat becoming tough.
There are several ways you can cook a skirt steak in order to keep it as tender as possible. Slow-cook methods, including braising, stewing and sous vide are common ways of cooking tougher cuts of meat, and all produce a meltingly tender piece of meat that falls apart at the touch of a fork.
Skirt steak is also delicious grilled or barbecued. It is often marinated first to minimise toughness and add extra depth of flavour, and should be cooked very quickly on the hottest grill you can find, or even placed directly onto the coals.
Likewise, when pan searing, you should also cook a skirt steak as quickly as possible, over a high heat. For a medium-rare skirt steak, you should cook in a hot skillet for around 7-10 minutes, turning about a minute before the halfway point. If you have a meat thermometer, the reading should be 130 degrees F. If you prefer your steaks a little more well done, you can get away with a medium skirt steak, but cook it any longer and you risk drying out the meat and ending up with something tough and chewy. When serving, always slice thinly, and against the grain.
Properly cooked, beef skirt steak is tender and full of flavour, making it a popular cut of meat. It is widely used in countries around the world, and is the cut of choice for a diverse range of dishes, including fajitas, arrachera, Chinese stir-fry, and Cornish pasties.
If you want to know more about different cuts of meat, or just keep up to date with the latest carnivore news, be sure to check Fine Dining Lovers regularly for all things meat.
Different beef skirt steak recipes from different countries
If you want to do something a little different with your skirt steak, there are plenty of recipes to try from all around the world. Here are just two of our favourites.
Our first skirt steak recipe comes from Brazil, a country well-known for its delicious meat dishes. These include the national dish itself, Feijoada, a rich, hearty stew made with pork and black beans, and the world-famous Brazilian barbecue, where you can find delicacies including charred rump steak, or picanha, wild boar and chicken hearts.
Brazilian skirt steak with golden garlic butter (recipe courtesy of Fine Cooking) is a dish found in many Rio de Janeiro restaurants, but is surprisingly quick and easy to prepare in your own kitchen. The dish takes thinly-sliced, succulent skirt steak, and drizzles with a rich garlic butter for a truly sumptuous flavour combination. Serve with mashed potatoes or spinach.
Our next dish comes from Mexico, another country with a strong culinary tradition involving grilled meat, including dishes such as barbacoa and carne asada. We love this recipe for carne asada from The Stay at Home Chef for its zesty spicy Mexican flavour. The meat is left overnight in a lime juice, garlic and jalapeño pepper marinade, then cooked quickly over a hot grill for a succulent texture with a good char on the outside. You can serve your carne asada with black beans or Mexican rice, or add to your favourite taco or burrito recipe.
Similar beef recipes
If you’re craving the comforting flavour of a classic pan-cooked steak with a rich, creamy sauce, you’ll love this recipe for beef steak with broccoli from Fine Dining Lovers. The steak is seared briefly in the pan and served with a creamy scallion and white wine sauce, with a side of fresh, steamed broccoli.