Skirt steak is a very popular cut of meat based on its flavor, but it also is tough. It is a long, flat piece of meat that comes from the lower part of the ribs and is interlaced and covered with a large amount of connective tissue. There are several methods of preparing and cooking skirt steak that enhance the flavor while tenderizing the meat. There are different ways to cut and prepare the steak that help with toughness, and there are marinades, seasonings and cooking methods that bring out the flavor of the steak.
Marinating is the most common method of preparation before cooking skirt steak. The cut of meat is very flavorful and the flavor is able to stand out, even alongside a strong marinade or dry rub of seasonings. Marinating helps tenderize the steak and adds flavor. Southwest-style marinades are often used with skirt steak, because the meat is most commonly used in fajitas and other Tex-Mex dishes.
The most popular method of cooking skirt steak is to grill it. Being a tougher piece of meat, it helps to serve skirt steak medium-rare with a well-done outer layer and a hot and pink inner layer. A very hot grill is necessary to prepare the meat in this manner. Cooking time will vary, based on the size of the steak and the temperature of the grill, but normally a few minutes on each side at a very hot temperature will achieve the right balance between well-done outer layer and medium-rare inner layer.
While grilling is the standard method for cooking skirt steak, there are other methods that work nearly as well. If grilling is not an option, the broiler in an oven can be used. The same principle applies in that the broiler needs to be set at a very high temperature and the steak cooked for a just a few minutes on each side.
Skirt steak also can be prepared by pan-searing and roasting or simply pan-seared, though the latter method would be considered the least effective in producing a tender steak. To use the pan-searing method for cooking skirt steak, one should add a small amount of oil or butter to the pan and cook each side over high heat for just a minute or two. When the sides are browned, the entire pan can be placed in the oven and the steak roasted until the center is hot and pink.
Whatever method is used for cooking skirt steak, the meat must be cut a specific way for serving to maximize tenderness. The abundance of connective tissue in skirt steak means it needs to be sliced diagonally, against the grain, to cut through the tissue properly. Thin slices of diagonally cut skirt steak can be very tender, despite coming from a tougher cut of meat.