The Butcher’s Best Kept Secret

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Jaden Hair, Cook Smarter – You’ll never see it advertised in the slick supermarket flyers or highlighted with a big sign. When you do find it, it’s probably one of the strangest looking cuts of beef and your eyes would easily skip over to the next package with a more familiar sounding name. But don’t let looks fool you – you are passing up one of the best kept secrets in the meat department. The Humble Skirt Steak.

 

Skirt Steak is a close cousin of Flank, long, flat and extremely flavorful. Love fajitas? Skirt steak. Authentic tacos made with real steak? Skirt Steak. In fact, Russell, the butcher at my local warehouse store, tells me that they sell a ton of Skirt, but only Spanish customers purchase them. In the past, Skirt would be thrown in with the rest of the trimmings to make ground beef or the butchers would keep the cut for themselves to savor at home. They knew the secret to taming this otherwise tough meat into tender, supple steak that melts in your mouth.

The secret to Skirt is making sure you cut across the grain. You will be rewarded with one of the juiciest, flavorful steaks for less than $5 a pound at the warehouse stores (like Costco, Sams Club). If you can’t use their mega 4lb pack, then head over to your local grocery store. They will usually carry a couple of packs, $7 per pound – but you may have to ask the butcher where they hide it! Skirt Steak is delicious that I’ll buy the big pack, divide it up and freeze what I won’t immediately use.

Grilled leftovers get raided at midnight or made into tomorrow’s Panini sandwiches with gorgonzola cheese and roasted red bell peppers.

My favorite way to cook Skirt is to marinate and grill it on the BBQ. Direct, high heat produces a beautifully seared meat. Since the steak is thin (typically ¾” thick) it cooks up in just a few minutes, making a great no-fuss entrée. Now is the perfect weather for outdoor entertaining – invite your friends and try Skirt Steak on the grill!

Saffron Rice goes great with the Skirt Steak. Its honey-like, floral aroma cannot be duplicated with any other spice. Just a small pinch of threads will flavor an entire dish.  A simple salad to serve alongside is sliced cucumbers with cherry tomatoes. Dress lightly with your favorite vinaigrette. As they say, people taste with their eyes first. The dashes of green cucumber skin with vivid red tomatoes against the golden rice with crimson Saffron threads is truly mouthwatering.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Saffron Rice

Serves 6

Grilled Skirt Steak

2 lbs Skirt Steak, cut into 3”- 4” pieces
¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar
3 T Olive Oil
3 Garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp Ground Cumin
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

1. Marinate the skirt steak in the above ingredients for up to 12 hours.

2. Pre-heat your BBQ grill. Grill steaks 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the steaks and how you like your steak done. Generally 4 minutes each side for medium-rare. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes on your cutting board.

3. Important: Cut across the grain. Lay one of the steaks in front of you, with the grain running left to right. Cut across all the fibers of the grain. Cut each steak into 1/4” inch thin slices. Since how you cut is so crucial to the tenderness of the steak, I like to cut all of the meat first and serve on a platter.

Saffron Rice

2 cups Basmati Rice
3 ½ cups Broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 pinch Saffron threads soaked in 2T hot water for 10 minutes
1 tsp Salt

1. Wash and drain the rice.

2. Put rice, broth, saffron + soaking water and salt in a 4-qt pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once it starts boiling, immediately cover and turn to low heat.

3. Let the rice cook on low heat, undisturbed (no peeking!) for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Let sit for another 5 minutes covered to finish steaming. Use a fork to fluff up the rice.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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