This month at Coombe Farm Organic, we’re taking our spotlight and casting it over beef skirt steak. This little gem of a cut tends to get overshadowed by the big boys of the steak world. It’s not as luxurious as fillet, as sophisticated as rib eye or as downright macho as T-Bone. Fashion seems to have passed by skirt steak in recent years, but we’re here to champion it. And here’s why we think you should join us.
Taste and Texture
Imagine beef skirt. You think it’s chewy, right? We’re not really sure why it’s gained this reputation and anyway, if you ask us, ‘chewy’ can be interpreted as a bad thing, or as a good thing. We – you guessed it – are erring on the side of good in this instance. Beef skirt steak has plenty of bite, meaning it also has plenty of deep, meaty flavour. Its texture is soft and the muscle tissue is open, so you’ll see it has a bit of stretch to it. If you’re looking for a melt-in-the-mouth steak, this isn’t the one for you, but if you want something that’s substantial and really packed with beefy taste, look no further.
Where it’s cut from
Beef skirt steak is an internal muscle that controls the diaphragm on each side of the beef carcass. It works as a pair, alongside the muscle that becomes bavette steak. As the diaphragm controls the beef animal’s inhalation, it does a lot of work. About 40 to 60 breaths a minute’s worth of work, in fact. Skirt steak is a long, narrow and relatively thin cut with a very clearly defined grain.
How to cook it
The muscles that make up skirt steak may have worked hard but it’s still a delicate cut. The rule to getting the best out of it is cooking very quickly with a high heat, or very slowly with a low heat. Anything in between will result in toughness. Barbecuing and skirt steak are a match made in heaven – the fierce heat of white-hot coals is perfect for searing the outside of the steak to a caramelised char, leaving it tender and pink inside. A minute per side is the max, but really make sure your barbecue, griddle or grill is as hot as hot can be before you start cooking. If you’re a fan of marinating your steaks, beef skirt steak is a great choice: its open texture readily absorbs flavours and as it’s a thin cut, marinades can penetrate through to the middle.
Give it a try
The intense flavour of skirt steak means it works well with other bold ingredients. Hot, smoky, earthy Mexican spices and the refreshing citrus tang of lime combine with sliced skirt steak to make the very best fajitas.
• Cut your steak against the grain into medium-thin slices
• Toss it in a bowl with a splash of oil, a squeeze of lime juice and a mix of chilli powder, cumin, smoked paprika or chipotle, garlic powder, salt, and pepper
• In a hot pan or wok, stir fry sliced red and yellow peppers, red onion and garlic until starting to char and soften. Remove from the pan.
• Return the pan to the heat with a fresh splash of oil. Once it’s smoking hot, add the beef, stir-frying it for a minute or so until it’s nicely browned but still tender. Remove from the heat, add the veg to the beef and mix through to blend the spicy flavours.
• Serve with fresh tomato salsa, guacamole and a crisp green salad, letting everyone make their own fajitas with warm, soft tortillas. Napkins will most certainly be required.