Ingredients

Beef skirt steak

Other Names: Bavette aloyau or hampe (French), carne de falda or falda residual (Spanish), fajita (Latin American), goose-skirt or thin skirt (British), Philadelphia steak, spuntatura di lombata, bavetta oculo de aba, or lombatello sottile (Italian).

General Description: Skirt steak is a thin, long, fan-shaped cut from the beef plate (belly) primal. Like its neighbor the hanger steak, skirt steak is one of the most flavorful of all steaks. There are two types of skirt: inside and outside, with inside skirt preferred because it doesn’t have as much membrane to be removed. This belt-shaped flap of tender meat is the source of the word fajita (“belt” in Spanish). Skirt steak is the authentic meat for fajitas, preferably cooked over natural wood or charcoal. This cut is particularly delicious when marinated because its loose texture allows it to absorb flavors and its strong taste holds up to bold seasonings.

Part of Animal: The inside skirt is cut from the plate (middle belly section) and is attached to the inside of the rib cage. The outside skirt consists of the diaphragm covered by a thick whitish membrane (the peritoneum) that is normally removed before sale.

Characteristics: This cut is coarse textured with a pronounced grain that runs crosswise at a slight angle. The lean meat should be practically free of outside fat. There is a 3-pound inside skirt and a 1.5-pound outside skirt steak on each side of the carcass.

How to Choose: Skirt steak is sold rolled into pinwheel-shaped individual steaks or as is. Look for fat-free, trimmed skirt steak with the membrane removed.

Amount to Buy: One trimmed inside skirt steak will weigh about 1 pound and can feed two to four people.

Store up to 2 days refrigerated, up to 3 days if marinated and refrigerated.

Storage: Marinate at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours refrigerated. Or dry-rub the steak with spices and refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, for 12 hours or overnight.

Preparation:

  1. If marinated, drain and pat steak dry. Lightly brush the steak with oil and grill over high heat, 3 to 5 minutes a side for medium-rare.
  2. Wrap the meat in a double thickness of aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Thinly slice across the grain and serve.
  3. Skirt steak toughens if cooked to more than medium.

Flavor Affinities: Allspice, ancho chile, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, cumin, garlic, lime, oregano, scallions, soy sauce.

from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com