Remembering Summer – Grilled Skirt Steak

I know, I know – it’s almost Thanksgiving; why am I posting about summer grilling? Just because the mood struck me I guess. I made this Serious Eats spice-rubbed grilled skirt steak  recipe at least three times this summer. I just couldn’t get enough of it. And yet I didn’t blog about any one of those cooks. Summer gets crazy busy and I just didn’t like enough of the pictures from an individual preparation enough to blog. Now, looking back on my photos, I’ve discovered I can put together a reasonable start-to-finish set of pictures.

This recipe is a little spicy. Skirt steak is a great candidate for this type of marinade because it can use just a little help. This cut of beef – don’t ask where on the cow it comes from – is not like a tenderloin filet (filet mignon), rib eye or New York strip that is great with just a bit of salt and pepper. 

Rub/Marinade ingredients for spicy skirt steak

Measure, pore, mash, and you have your marinade ready.

Depending on your butcher you may need to strip off some of the silver skin membrane before marinating.  Before covering the steaks take a close look at how the grain runs across the meat. We’ll talk about that later. If you aren’t sure, take a picture before marinating. Mix the marinade ingredients into a paste and rub it on the skirt steak and marinate in the refrigerator at least two hours. 

Preparing skirt steak for the rub/paste

Before rubbing the paste on the steak, check to ensure it isn’t folded over itself. Skirt steak can be really long. That is experience talking; the first time I prepared this, I didn’t realize it was folded so only marinated one side. I was a bit surprised when I got ready to put it on the grill and it unfolded into a long strip with marinade only on one side.

Spice-rubbed skirt steak ready for marinating.

Once the steak has marinated in the fridge for at least two hours, take it out to let it warm up a tad while you get the grill ready. You need a crazy hot grill to cook this. This isn’t slow cooked barbecue here, this is hot and fast. For a couple of skirt steaks, you’ll only need one chimney of charcoals; I took the pictures below when we had a small crowd over. 

Lighting the charcoal for skirt steak
Ludicrously hot coals with air vents wide open for cooking skirt steak.

Put the top grate on, scrape and oil it; close the lid and let it heat up a few minutes. As you can see these are thin pieces of meat; put the steak strips on the hot side of the grill for three minutes, then flip and cook for another three minutes. If your coals are hotter or cooler you might adjust the time a little. After cooking on the hot side, move the steaks to the cool side of the grill and take their temperature.  I didn’t need to leave mine on the cool side at all; they were ready to roll after direct cooking.

Skirt steaks on the cool side of the grill to finish cooking. 

Remove to a platter, tent with foil and let rest at least 5 minutes; 10 is better.

Skirt steak resting after coming off the grill.

When you are ready to cut it for serving you need to carve against the grain. Refer back to the third picture of the post – before it is covered with paste. Your – at least my – first inclination might be to start at one end and slice into strips. That will result in very a tough and chewy dinner. Instead, cut the strips cross-wise  three or for pieces. pieces the short way. Then rotate 90° and slice with a slight bias. That way you get cross sections and each piece will be very tender.

Put the meat on a serving platter and pas sit around.

Sliced skirt steak ready for serving.

Dinner is served

Dinner is served – spice-rubbed skirt steak

This is a great summer-time dinner for friends and family. If you aren’t a fan of spiciness, try another marinade. The three main take aways on grilling skirt steak is

  • Marinade with a bit of acid and/or salt to break down the tough fibers
  • Grill hot and fast
  • Slice across the grain

Rating: ★★★★  

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