I once thought skirt steak got its name because it was favored by chicks, like mushy movies. Ladies will love it, guys will fall asleep. Apparently, I wasn’t far off. Turns out, skirt steak comes from around the cow’s belly, the place where a skirt would be worn (if cows wore skirts, that is). A boneless, relatively inexpensive cut, it’s prized more for its flavor than tenderness. To minimize toughness, it can be marinated and/or grilled, or pan seared very quickly (think stir-fry) or braised very slowly. Slice thinly against the grain to maximize tenderness.
“Slice against the grain.” You see that instruction all the time and nobody bothers to explain it. I hear you. So let me translate this bit of chef lingo. Skirt steak (much like brisket and London broil) has long fibers running through it. You will see these distinct lines in the meat: these babies are tough. When you use your knife, instead of your teeth, to cut through those fibers, eating goes from “oy” to “ah.” So we cut “against” or “across” the grain: that means don’t slice parallel to those lines, but rather across those lines, ideally at a 45 degree angle. You’re cutting those long fibers into short ones to make it easier to chew. You don’t have to be a super chef to notice that cutting against the grain or cutting along the fibers spells the difference between meat that melts in your mouth and meat that’s tougher than your high school physics teacher. By the way, you can slice these meats before or after cooking, but if you cut after cooking, let the meat rest a bit. Everything behaves better when it’s rested.
Now let’s shoot for those speed flags. Our Steak with Red Wine Glazed Carrots, Parsnips and Mushrooms is seared only 4 to 5 minutes on each side and then removed from the pan to rest while we cook our veggies. Once they’re ready, slice the meat against the grain (you know how!) and return it to the pan for just 2 minutes to heat through and coat with sauce.
A warm, 1-skillet steak supper, perfect for a cold wintery night! Super yum!
If you missed yesterday's one skillet supper check out my Chicken with Roasted Winter Fruit.