In this post we look at skirt steak, a cut that is prized by American butchers and chefs, yet not as widely known to global eaters.
But what is skirt steak?
In short, skirt steak is a cut that is taken from the beef primal, subprimal, or primal of the diaphragm.
It is primarily composed of muscle fibers, with little connective tissue and can be quite tough if not treated properly.
It’s a thin strip of meat that usually comes in one continuous piece. This cut is very flavorful due to its high-fat content and is usually served in relatively thin slices to make it tender.
It’s usually marinated or rubbed with spices before being grilled, broiled, pan-fried, or braised.
Some people dip the meat in egg and breadcrumbs before cooking it to add crispiness to the steak.
Skirt steak is prized for its beefy flavor and lean texture. This cut can be tough and chewy (because it comes from the belly of the cow). However, if cooked correctly it can make a delicious meal for you and your guests.
Let’s take a closer look…
What Exactly Is Skirt Steak?
So what exactly is skirt steak? Well, it’s a cut that comes from the diaphragm of cattle. It is attached to the ribs and helps to support the animal’s internal organs.
This cut of meat can be quite tough because it does a lot of work supporting the cow’s body. However, if cooked correctly, this steak can become flavorful and tender.
This steak originated in South America and was first served in the United States at a restaurant called Argentine Steakhouse that opened up on Second Avenue in New York City.
These restaurant owners were told that the meat they ordered was for “ropa vieja” (which means ‘old clothes’ because this steak had to be torn apart, like old rags).
Skirt steak is often marinated before cooking because of its tougher texture.
This can help to break down some of the meat fibers and turn it into a tender, juicy steak that almost melts in your mouth.
Skirt steak actually refers to several types of steaks that are cut from this part of the cow.
These include the below cuts;
- Inside skirt steak – the most common and best known, cut from the plate primal.
- Outside skirt steak – all of the below cuts are actually this steak, but is specifically called outside skirt steak when it is cut from the sirloin primal.
- Fajita meat – this is what you see in fajitas at Tex-Mex restaurants.
- Butcher’s steak – this is a specific way that butcher shops and butchers cut the various skirt steaks. Each of these steaks can be called a butcher’s steak if it has been cut up in this way.
How Is Skirt Steak Best Cooked?
When it comes to cooking skirt steak, there are multiple ways to do this. I find it best if you marinade the meat in a mixture of olive oil, fresh garlic cloves (minced), and salt for one hour before cooking.
This helps not only flavor the meat, but will also make it more tender.
Traditionally skirt steak is cooked on a grill or broiled to the desired degree (rare to medium-rare).
You can pan-fry this steak too if you wish, but I find that this method does not yield the best results.
Cooking skirt steak is easy and only takes a few minutes. On average, I cook this for about 3-5 minutes on each side.
If you are cooking skirt steak rare to medium-rare, make sure you cook it only one minute on each side during the first round of cooking.
Then take it off the heat and allow it to reheat for just 1-2 minutes.
I would recommend cooking it on medium to high heat for this second round of cooking which will allow you to sear the meat and develop a golden crust on the outside of the steak.
How Is Skirt Steak Best Prepared?
Preparing skirt steak is also easy, simply ensure that you set aside enough time to pull together everything you need, then have your cooking method ready to go.
The most common way to prepare steak is searing it in a pan or grill it, but you can also cut skirt steak into thin strips and add it to stir-fries.
Ensure you season the skirt steak with salt and pepper beforehand and use any steak rub that you prefer.
Other than this, there’s not a lot more you need to do to prepare this cut.
How Is Skirt Steak Best Served?
When serving skirt steak, it’s a good idea to slice it across the grain to make it easier to chew.
Another way of serving skirt steak is by throwing it into a stir-fry or kebab, but you can also use it as part of sandwich filling.
I personally like to serve my steaks with fries or potatoes, grilled vegetables with some sauce.
This is really personal preference, but this steak cut is best served with flavorful toppings and condiments of your choice.
Many decide to serve this steak with a sauce such as chimichurri or a stir-fry sauce to give it a little extra flavor.
Also, ensure you use steak butter to help keep the steak nice and tender, this is an important step that many forget.
Steak butter helps to seal in all those juices and tastes heavenly.
Is Skirt Steak Expensive?
The price of skirt steak is largely going to depend on your geographical location as well as where you buy the steak from.
Skirt steak on average costs around $10 – $15 per pound and can sometimes be found on sale.
However, if you don’t see it on sale one week try again the following week as prices do change frequently.
It’s a great idea to buy in bulk if you do see this steak on sale, simply throw it in the freezer then you’re always on hand with a juicy steak for you and your family.
Where Is Skirt Steak Commonly Found?
Skirt steak is commonly found in the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia.
In the United States, it’s usually referred to as a butcher’s steak or a bavette.
In the United Kingdom, it’s generally called a skirt, although some British butchers may call this cut a sirloin skirt or a mini-sirloin.
New Zealand and Australia both refer to this steak as a sirloin skirt. In all three countries, it is one of the least expensive steaks out there, making it ideal for budget-friendly, family dinners.
This cut of meat is among the least expensive beef options in the meat case. It’s also one of the leanest steaks you can buy.
What Is The Nutritional Value Of Skirt Steak?
When it comes to the nutritional value of skirt steak, you’ll be glad to know that it’s low in fat and rich in protein, two of the most important nutrients for good health.
Not only that, but this steak is also rich in iron, niacin, and vitamin B-6. These are three of the most important nutrients for good health too.
See below the nutritional value of one serving (85g) of skirt steak:
- Calories = 202
- Fat = 12g
- Saturated Fat = 5g
- Carbohydrates = 0g
- Sugars = 0g
- Protein = 21g
As you can see, this steak is high in protein and relatively low in fat, which is definitely beneficial for those trying to lose weight.
In fact, if you’re on a high-protein diet, it’s a good idea to eat this steak at least once or twice a week. That will help you build muscle and burn calories more efficiently too.
Although it is slightly higher in calories, this is a large steak that is packed with nutrients.
So if you are trying to eat healthily it’s a good idea to include this steak in your diet. It will prevent you from feeling hungry again hours after having eaten your meal.
It’s worth keeping in mind that this steak is one that has a bit of a chewy texture and is fairly tough.
That’s what makes it work as one that goes well with different types of marinades, especially those that include strong flavors like soy sauce and ginger to cut through the fattiness.
If you’re planning on eating this steak without marinating, we would recommend cooking it at medium-high temperature for no more than five minutes per side.
Before it’s cooked, this steak should be tenderized by either hitting it with the back of a skillet handle or using a meat tenderizer tool to pound it.
This will help the meat’s texture become more tender, which will make it easier to digest.
Skirt steak does contain some very healthy nutrients, including selenium, vitamin B12, and zinc.
However, cooking with this cut of meat is not without its consequences.
The excess grease found in the marbling of this steak can build up on your skillet or grill, which can lead to the formation of carcinogens that are harmful to your health.
As a whole, skirt steak is a cut that can be enjoyed as part of a nutritious diet, but it shouldn’t be eaten in excess quantity if you’re trying to watch your figure.
It’s a cheap steak that is perfect for grilling, but it’s important to cut away any excess fat before cooking.
Once you’ve gotten around the grease and reduced the marbling in this steak, it can be a delicious choice for dinner entrees or even just an afternoon lunch.
Of course, with its high protein content, skirt steak is also great for making beef fajitas. This cut is great for snacking on, too, which makes it perfect for parties or tailgate events that you might be attending.
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