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Jul 20, 2006 04:10 AM

Skirt Steak...Revisited...All is Good with the World...

I knew it was not overcooked (everyone knows Funwithfood does NOT overcook meat). However, my first attempt at grilling skirt steak was a huge disappointment. (See below for original post.)

My first instinct was that it had not marinated long enough. My second though was that the meat just was not good--for whatever reason.

Here's how it went, I marinated (7 hours) and cooked half of the skirt steak the first time around, then froze the remaining 2 pounds IN the marinade. It was so tough the first go-around, I had a feeling it could only improve in the freezer. That is EXACTLY what happened.

The phase II meat was taken out of the freezer and placed in the refrigerator for 24 hours to defrost, then sat at room temperature for 1 hour prior to grilling.

The phase II steak was grilled & cut it the *same* way as phase I, but...voila--fabulous grilled skirt steak!

My marital unit raved (was very harsh/critical with phase I). I was happy for the accolades, but I knew as soon as I tasted it that my phase II version was 'night and day' better than phase I.

Sherlock Holmes has solved the case of the "Tough Skirt Steak"; marinate for 24 hours.

Disclaimer: Your results may differ...

Former Skirt Steak Post:

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  1. Funwithfood, first I am glad that you had a great skirt steak, we love them. You may be jumping to conclusions with the 24-hour comment, tho. You had several variables to consider which might have been the positive cause for the excellent results, and choosing 24-hours was a surprise to me at the end of your OP.

    I am sure many of my chow-buddies will give the molecular reason for my real-life conclusion, but I would point to your freezing/defrosting the steak in the marinade versus an extended time-line as the reason for your success. This has been a favorite technique of mine for many years for brisket and braised short ribs (post cooking).

    Would love to hear your results after you perform the same half-and-half test on the 24-hour marinade.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jfood

      The reason I decided upon the 24 hour time frame, was because I had just read a recipe from a chef in Food & Wine that set that as an ideal time frame in his recipe. My spousal unit remembers skirt steak fondly--and said it was marinated for a "long time".

      Seven hours was not sufficient in phase I, so it could be that somewhere in-between the two time periods would be fine. Maybe my steak was indeed an especially bad cut, hence it needed the longer marinading time--won't know until...phase III.

    2. We had some very tender skirt steak the other night, which my DH marinated in melted butter - I have never heard of such a thing - don't know where he came up w/ the idea, but that meat sure was tender ... though I can't imagine that butter acts chemically in the same way a "normal" marinade would.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MMRuth

        There's no chemical magic with a marinade. It just flavors the meat. A butter marinade is not that different from an olive oil marinade. Glad you liked it.

      2. the longest I've ever marinated skirt steak is an hour. It's never ever been tough. Maybe your butcher is giving you a crappy cut of skirt steak? I've grilled with no marinating at all... with just salt and pepper and it's been wonderfully tender. Not sure what to say, but glad you found a solution that worked for you.

        1 Reply
        1. re: adamclyde

          Agreed. I've never marinaded my skirt steak longer than 30 minutes (if at all) and I've never had a tough skirt steak yet. All my skirt steaks have been from butcher shops.

        2. How did the cooking method change the second time from the first? In my experience, cooking method and the execution thereof is more important than marinade when it comes to tenderness.\

          I use the good eats method of cooking skirt steak. Lay it straight on the coals for 1 minute a side. Works for me!

          4 Replies
          1. re: RobotDeathSquad

            Everything was identical, except the freezing/defrosting of the meat. The only logical conclusion is the length of the marinade in this particular cut's instance.

            There is no other logical explanation that I can see. (I have nothing to gain one way or the other, just making conclusions based on my experience--not looking for agreement or approval!)

            1. re: Funwithfood

              Funwithfood, I'm glad you found a method that worked. In some sense, that's all that matters.

              But the fact is that the acid in your marinade is simply not strong enough to tenderize the meat. Marinades affect the flavor of meat. With skirt steak, that can be accomplished an hour. It's that thin.

              If your meat was too tough, I'd venture to say you cooked it too long, sliced it improperly (e.g. too thick or in the wrong direction), or had bad meat. There is no way you need to marinate a skirt steak for 24 hours, or freeze it and then defrost it, to make it tender.

              Like I said, if you like it this way, no reason to change. If you want to figure out how to get tender skirt steak, (1) ask your butcher how to cut it properly, just to double check that you are cutting it against the grain. (2) Marinate it for an hour. (3) Cook it on high heat for 1-2 minutes per side, then wrap it in tin foil and let it rest for 15 minutes. (4) Slice it very, very thin and against the grain.

              I've done this many times and it is always tender.

              1. re: Darren72

                I agree this batch may have been a low grade of beef. There was no way to tell, as it was purchased in a 4 pound cryovac package ($2.69/lb) at a restaurant supply store (rests *only*).

                I noticed the texture of the meat in Phase II was indeed different from Phase I. When I picked it up with my tongs to place it onto the grill, the meat pulled apart into several pieces. Whereas, the phase I steak remained intact.

                Interestingly, I heated the leftovers in the oven at 350 convection to caramelize the sugar. It was very caramelized, but the meat was still as tender as could be--almost like roasted pork shoulder. We fought over the caramelized bits!

                I can only conclude that the soy, ginger, molasses, and red wine vinegar (during this extra-long marinading period) did in fact change the texture of this, perhaps bad, cut of beef. Of course, a better quality cut would not need a long marinade.

                1. re: Funwithfood

                  First congrats on your success!

                  I've recently purchased my first cast iron grill pan and started exploring the wonders of skirt steak.

                  fwiw, so far I've only tried grocery store bought choice meat (though imo this store carries better than avg grocery store beef)

                  Twice this month I tried a marinade of fresh lime juice, plenty of crushed garlic, and Cholula hot sauce. Marinading time in both case were an hour give or take.

                  Both came out great, tasy and tender.

                  Gotta admit though the leftover steak was more flavorful the next day having been able to really let the marinade flavors meld.

          2. The first time I grilled skirt steak, I followed this recipe:
            It turned out perfectly. It was not remotely tough (unlike some flank steak attempts), but maybe it's because I got the meat from a good butcher. I don't think marinating the meat tenderized it, just seasoned it.