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My Fajitas were Inedible... What Did I Do Wrong?

Last night I made fajitas for dinner. I marinated flank steak for about 8 hours in a nicely seasoned marinade that included freshly squeezed lime juice, olive oil, crushed garlic, ground cumin, oregano, chopped cilantro and chili powder. I cooked it on a stove-top grill pan until it was slightly pink. I let the meat rest for about 10 minutes while I cooked sliced onions and bell peppers in the same pan. I sliced the meat at an angle, against the grain, and served it.

In a word -- BLEEECH!!! The meat was totally inedible. It couldn't be chewed. It was my understanding that the lime juice would serve to tenderize the meat. It didn't. Maybe I should mention, FWIW, that the flank steak was pre-packaged and was a Swift Premium product. It was the only flank steak the supermarket carried. I tossed the whole thing in the trash.

I'm thinking that if I ever attempt fajitas again, I'll have to use a better, more tender cut of meat. Or is there something else I need to know about using flank steak?

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  1. Had it been aged at all?

    1. We used to make fajitas but only with skirt steak, not flank steak. Not sure this would matter that much though...hmmm...hopefully someone will have the answer for you!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Val

        Flank steak (usually) is great for fajitas, I'm assuming you sliced it thinly enough and across the grain- maybe you marinated them too long? Usually we salt & pepper it and squeeze a bunch of lime juice on the up side before throwing it on the grill, then put more lime juice on top after it's turned. Why did it taste bad to you- can you elaborate on why it was so unpalatable? Maybe the meat was over the hill?

      2. It was not aged, Tummy. People don't age flank steak. And this was pre-packaged, remember. You can say it was "wet aged" which just basically means it was left in the cryo-packaging for a while and the natural enzymes in the meat have gone to work on it.

        Anyway, I would say that you should not have used lime juice. Lime juice will "cook" the meat, especially after 8 hours. Not by heat of course but via the acid in the lime juice. Without getting into much detail, I can assume that the meat was a whitish color? Kind of a gray-white? If so, I would also bet that it was kind of mushy on the outside.

        Marinades as a general rule to not tenderize meats by any appreciable measure. You can't take flank steak, marinate it and expect it to be as tender as filet mignon... it just doesn't work that way. For marinades to truly tenderize the meat they would have to penetrate all the way to the center. For true tenderization, go for something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Deni-MT48-Blade...

        If the main problem was just that it was tough, I can only tell you that you didn't slice it thin enough. Also, don't worry about angles with fajitas. Angles make things pretty, not tender or tasty. If you're throwing it all into a tortilla for an easy Sunday dinner, don't worry about looks. Think about shaving the meat with the knife, not slicing. That mentality will help ensure super thin slices. Thin=more tender. Go for 1/8 of an inch or thinner. 1/16 is best but just be sure you've got a sharp knife. Thin, thin, thin!

        10 Replies
        1. re: SQHD

          At least some flank steaks are aged, and I bet it would make a difference. I'm not familiar with "Swift Premium", though...

          CindyJ, you may be interested in this site, for more information about flank steak:

          http://www.foodtv.ca/Themain/articles...

          Keep in mind that you may just have got a tough piece of meat, and there was nothing you could do to mitigate that.

          1. re: Full tummy

            I would venture to bet that you cannot walk into any store anywhere and find aged flank steak. You are talking about dry aged, right? The cost of aging (time, cooler space, labor, etc.) does not justify the return. In other words, it would be far more expensive to age flank than the money you would gain by selling the aged product. That's why you only see aged cuts like rib eye, t-bone, etc. because stores can sell it at $20+ per pound.

            Wet aged is basically what ALL supermarket beef is these days so saying that "it would make a difference" is kind of counterintuitive because unless you happen to kill and butcher a cow yourself, your beef IS aged. The beef primal pieces that are shipped to the grocery stores are left in the vacuum packaging for a few days. The enzymes work in much the same way that they do when dry aged, only the process is far easier, you don't have to worry about temperature, humidity and evaporation... you do nothing but let it sit. The end result is a more tender product than it would be if no aging was done, but the flavor is of course no where near the level as dry aged.

            1. re: SQHD

              I'm pretty certain my butcher dry ages skirt. I made a great carne asada once. Well, there abouts anyway.

              1. re: Soop

                All the beef I buy (in the UK:) is "hung" - I'm guessing that's the same as dry aged?

                1. re: greedygirl

                  Yeah, as far as I'm aware.
                  When I asked my butcher the first time if a steak was aged, he looked at me like he didn't understand the question, and then said it was all dry aged (and you can definitely tell from the colour of a lot of them - lovely yellow fat and burgundy meat)

                  I guess they just hang up the entire cow...

            2. re: Full tummy

              You've got to be kidding. I live in an area where butchers are rare so I have to depend what is available in a regular grocery stor - probaby like most of the country. You;re a beef snob & that doesn;t work for the average cook.

            3. re: SQHD

              The meat wasn't that gray-white color, but maybe that's because the chili powder made everything kind of reddish. The texture still looked okay. And once again, the recipe was to blame, because the instructions said, "Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour marinade over meat in shallow glass, plastic or other non-reactive container (a 1-gallon plastic zip-top bag works well). Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours."

              1. re: CindyJ

                Just how much lime juice did you use? Maybe we're all assuming you used a lot when in actuality it could have been a tablespoon.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    Yeah - sounds like more than was necessary for 8ish hours.

                    If you read over ceviche recipes (and granted, we're talking about fish with ceviche, not beef) you will find comparable amounts of lime juice, maybe a little more, 1/3 to 1/2 cup, and a "marinating" time of anywhere from 2-6 hours on average. During this time the fish protein is cooked by the lime juice.

            4. I use skirt steak for fajitas as well. I make flank steak, grilled, thinly sliced for other meals but it still needs a fork and knife to eat it. That's the nature of the cut.

              1. Try it again, but get rid of the lime juice, and the chili powder (if your chili powder contains salt)

                Also, a more tender cut such as top sirloin or skirt might take the guesswork out of it. I like rare/med rare flank just fine, but once you go a degree past med rare, you might as well braise it. Top sirloin is a tiny biit more forgiving, skirt is a little more forgiving yet.

                You can also use chicken.
                :-)

                4 Replies
                1. re: gordeaux

                  I wouldn't have used lime juice at all, except for the fact that I'd read it was a tenderizer. I didn't like the citrus flavor it imparted. I've used chicken in the past, and it's been fine. I was going for a variation last night.

                  As for flank steak vs. skirt steak, there were packages of both in the meat counter, right next to each other,both from Swift Premium. They looked like similar cuts; in fact, I'm curious about what the difference is between the two. I chose the flank steak based on illogical reasoning. The flank steak was $1 more a pound than the skirt steak. I figured that maybe higher cost translated into better quality. One thing for sure -- the cheaper skirt steak could not have been any worse.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    skirt is a much more tender cut, whereas flank is more suited for braising. That's not to say flank is not great when cooked properly on the rarer side of temperature. However, flank is not forgiving at ALL if you cook it past the rarer side of med rare. Skirt, can be well done, and still retain some tenderness.

                    It really sounds like your lime juice for 8 hours might have made a normally decent cut of meat from a bad cow a little worse than it would normally be. My guess is that the inner portion of the meat would have been fine, BUT, the outer portion was probably cooked more than you think. The lime may have cooked it, and THEN the heat may have cooked it more. Add in the fact that the it may have been a bad tough cow, and, it adds up to leather.

                    Skirt steak used to be a "garbage cut" that nobody wanted (except for smart butchers.) It is full of fat and flavor, and incredibly tender for the price when done right. I'd say for the normal price I can get choice outer skirt for of 2.99, there is no better "tender" cut of meat. I can sometimes score top sirloin for the same price which I also adore, but skirt is more flavorful (fatty.)

                    Anyway, you'll probably have better luck next time, and if you didn't like the lime, then omit it. I kinda think you got a bad cow part to start off with - it happens.

                  2. re: gordeaux

                    The chili powder was my own blend, and it contained nothing but toasted, pulverized chili peppers.

                    1. re: CindyJ

                      I would still use lime juice, as I said above, but squeeze it on top of the steak while I was grilling it, some on top with each side up. Thinly sliced, crosswise, and I wouldn't marinate it at all. I don't like pickled meat (my mother cured me of this with her homemade sauerbraten). Swift Premium used to be one of the better brands of meat back in the 1960s, I reallyhaven't followed them since then, but when I shopped with my mom at the local AF Base commissaryas a kid back then they had a lot of Swift products. Hopefully it's still a good bet.

                  3. I don't know exactly what product you bought, but flank steak is not the right choice for fajitas. A skirt steak is very thin and when cut across the grain is usually tender. If I buy flank steak I use this metal tenderizer I have on it and cook it like a london broil, mainly for a french dip type thing.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: danhole

                      You mean like the tenderizer I posted above?

                      1. re: SQHD

                        Exactly! I lucked out and got one for $10 at the end of summer one year. It is a great tool and everyone should have one in their kitchen! Works a lot of frustration out of you as well as tenderize the meat.

                        1. re: danhole

                          Yeah - I agree. I just wanted to clarify because lots of people still use the old style mallet "tenderizer." Meat mallets are OK for spreading or thinning out meat for things like chicken piccata or Wiener Schnitzel but not for really tenderizing. These Deni's are amazing and work quite well.

                      2. re: danhole

                        I checked quite a few recipes and found that the number that called for flank steak was about the same as those calling for skirt steak. From one Epicurious recipe: "Skirt steak, which is full of flavor and holds marinades well, is the essential beef cut for fajitas."

                        1. re: CindyJ

                          I'm not about to argue with anyone who has used flank steak and been successful with it, I just have never tried it. I have always used skirt steak. so that is what I am familiar with. You should check out the tenderizer like SQHD linked to. You can get it under different brand names in the BBQ section at many stores.

                      3. I, too made fajitas last nite w/ flank steak. Did a dry rub of cumin, garlic & onion powder, cayenne, chili and a little salt and dried thyme. Let it sit for 4hour in fridge. Then, half hour prior to cooking, took it out, squuezed half a lime over it and then into a super hot cast iron skillet. Let rest, sliced; delicious!! I think lime or tequila should only be used for a quick (20-45 min.) marinade or it starts to "cook" the meat like ceviche. I have always used flank steak for fajitas as I can never find skirt steak here. Flank works just fine for me and has lots of flavor and a pleasant "chew" factor. adam

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: adamshoe

                          Funny, we made flank steak fajitas last night, too (something drew us all to the same meal, HA HA--a pre-Cinco de Mayo fest). We make them fairly regularly--probably every other week or so. We rarely marinate for long--maybe an hour or so. We do use lime juice (sometimes tequila and OJ, too) and a variety of different spices, depending which one of us is in the kitchen. As you say, Adam, it works fine for us and has lots of flavor.

                          1. re: kattyeyes

                            I was feeling disappointed that Sunday's Cinco de Mayo festival in nearby Kennett Square had been canceled. So I figured cooking something Mexican at home would brighten the gloomy day.

                            1. re: CindyJ

                              That's a bummer! It sounds like you just had a bad piece of meat. I will say that we get our meat at a local IGA place (the meat is not prepackaged). I have no idea if that's factoring in.

                              On the bright side, you can mix up another pitcher of margaritas and try something else tonight. Maybe enchiladas or even just tacos...'cause the weather is still gloomy here and I bet it isn't much better where you are. It's a great day for making sweet corn cakes (have you made them before?) since it's rainy and raw...it'll warm the house up.

                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                If the problem was due to a bad piece of meat, I'll have to learn how to tell what I'm getting. Maybe if I buy it from the local butcher instead of the supermarket, I'll have better luck.

                                The meal was saved by the yummy guacamole & chips and margaritas we made. I think it'll be a few days before I'm in the mood for Mexican food again. But now I'm intrigued by your mention of sweet corn cakes. Care to share your recipe, kattyeyes?

                                1. re: CindyJ

                                  My pleasure. I don't recall where this recipe came from (it's a printout from somewhere), but it's a keeper. Enjoy!

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5985...

                          2. re: adamshoe

                            Totally agree, shoe. But skirt steak seems to cook better than flank - haven't used in a while since we got a tough one once too.

                            And if you're using meat from a bag, and planning on a dry heat method of cooking it, (grill, roast, broil) dry rubs & brines work best, to dry out the meat a little, and let it get a good sear when you do cook it. I find cryovac meats a little troubling, just depends what it is, I guess, but I would put it on a rack w/my rub or just lots of salt to dry it out a little.

                          3. like others have said, slice it really thin against the grain and dont cook it past pink. Its not as good as skirt for this but it should work.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jen kalb

                              Slicing against the grain is absolutely imperative no matter what cut of meat you're using.

                              Thank you Alton Brown! :)
                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nevGqd... (starts about 2:05)

                            2. Lots of local Kroger stores here in the south have started carrying flat iron steaks in the pre-packaged vacu-pacs. Over the past few years I guess they sold enough of them and they are now carrying a bunch of them all the time. If you're looking for something different and frankly, far tastier than flank steak, try these.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: SQHD

                                adamshoe, it's all your fault...every time I see "flat iron" now, I hear "flah-tee-RON" in my head.

                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                  Oh, what...and you think I DON'T??!! ;) adam

                              2. What about using a more tender cut of meat instead of flank steak/skirt steak? For example, would a boneless sirloin steak work for fajitas?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: CindyJ

                                  Anything will work. You can use tenderloin to t-bone to tongue, it's all up to you. The ones I just mentioned aren't very traditional of course. The idea of fajitas is to take cheap meat, give it some flavor, grill it and off you go. The type of meat does not really make the dish, it's more the style in which it is prepared and what you put on them. Fajitas quite versatile and in the form that we (Americans) eat them, they are far more of a Texas dish than a Mexican dish so don't think you have to stick to tried and true recipes. Sirloin is a fine choice and will work quite well.

                                  Remember that not all recipes are good ones. Feel free to eliminate and add different ingredients as well as adjust proportions. Recipes for marinades should give you ideas, then YOU take them and make them your own.

                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                    Sirloin is not more tender than skirt. It is more tender than flank, but not skirt.
                                    Cook a sirloin medium, and cook an inner or outer skirt medium. Sirloin is less forgiving than skirt. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE sirloin, and bought 30 pounds of it when a local grocer had TOP sirloin on sale for 2.99/lb a few weeks ago. I LOVE the stuff, but it is nowhere near as fatty as skirt. Once you go past medium with a sirloin it's leather. You can go past medium with tenderloin, ribeye, strips, and skirts. I'm more of a rare person, so it doesn't matter - I suspect you might be the same since you like sirloin.

                                  2. ACIDS TOUGHEN PROTEIN. Only dairy and enzymes tenderize.

                                    http://www.finecooking.com/articles/m...

                                    IMO that was the problem. And /Or your grill pan wasn't hot enough. Flank steak should work ok if prepared and cooked properly.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: C. Hamster

                                      I was wondering about the heat of the grill pan, too. Cook it fast, cook it briefly. Save the lime for just before or just after.

                                    2. Just reading through some of the follow up post I would say you over marinaded and I am not a fan of cutting on the bias. When cutting against the grain on a flank the more straight down you go the shorter the fibers. When you start to cut on the bias you lengthen the meat fibers. I cut very thin but straight down. Makes for very tender flank steak. Next time, and you should try it again just use a rub on the meat and slice very thin. Skirt steak has more fat so is juicier but we use flank all the time and it's very tender. I would also buy a regular flank and not a SP prepackaged product. I've had prime and choice flank and they were both pretty similar. I know I've had some that were better than others but I'm never too thrilled with a prepackaged Swift product.

                                      1. 1. Make sure you cut it across the grain...

                                        2. Try flap meat next time. Flap meat is to Mexico as Flank/Skirt is to Gabachos.

                                        1. I think the first thing I would do is not use cryrovac packed meat. I am not a fan of Premium Swift, I've bought pork loin and ribs from that brand, they were not very good.

                                          You don't need to go to a lot of trouble for the meat, you can use just about any cut. If it's a tough cut, use the technique to cut it thin against the grain on a diagonal (sort of freeze it, but not all the way, it makes cutting easier) The marinade you have sounds almost there. The one change you need to make is to change out the lime juice for red wine vinegar. That's what we use for fajitas. If you had lime, its at the end, where you'd squeeze fresh lime over the meat or serve the lime with the cooked faijtas.
                                          Everything else looks fine. Just make that little change, get the meat cut it the way I said, and you'll be good to go. Oh and you can marinate the meat with the red wine vinegar change out, just fine. Good luck!

                                          oh and to add just another thing, when cooking the meat, drain it and pat it dry/
                                          Then on a very hot pan (i have cast iron griddle/flat grill) you cook the meat very fast, leave it about med rare, it will be much better!

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                            First:
                                            Almost all meat, and certainly 95% of the beef that we buy in this country is cryovac packed meat. There's no way around it. Unless you buy from a local source like say, a grass fed beef farm in your region of the country, it's going to cryovac packed.

                                            Second:
                                            Brands may have good and bad qualities about them but in reality as long as it's choice beef purchased in a grocery store, you're not going to find much difference between Swift brand and the regular beef behind the counter at any other store.

                                            I understand what you're saying about pre-packaged pork, it often gets a real funky smell (especially pork loin for some reason) when it's sold in those factory sealed packs, but beef is quite different. As I mentioned above, people actually leave the beef in it's packaging for extended periods of time to wet age the beef. On top of that it doesn't gain any of the funkiness that can be found in pork. So please, if I may, let's stick to comparing like ingredients, not completely different animals - literally.

                                            Third:
                                            As I have stated above and as scubadoo97 pointed out as well, the best way to slice flank is not on the bias, (you use "diagonal") but straight down. That will produce the most tender slices of flank.

                                            Fourth:
                                            As far as your instruction to slice when semi-frozen, well that's off the mark too. Why would you grill a piece of meat, freeze it and then decide to cut it? Actually I do know what you're saying - you're saying cut it before you cook it, and then cook it in a pan on the stove. That's not fun and it certainly does not include grilling which is essential to fajitas in my opinion.

                                            Fifth:
                                            The difference in lime juice and red wine vinegar does not make any difference in the finished product aside from flavor. So, to say that it a "change you need to make" is off base. It's nothing but a personal preference that you have. Vinegar will have the same cooking effect on raw meat that lime juice will have.

                                            1. re: SQHD

                                              Wait, you didn't bag on her suggestion to dry the meat before searing it?!

                                              I tend to disagree with your opinion that 95% of all beef available is cryovac packed. My grocery stores seem to have both readily available. Unless you're a meat packer, or butcher or grocery store manager, and you may be for all I know, I fail to see how you reason that all cuts of beef available to the consumer start out at cryovac'ed.

                                              And wet -aging is fine, but again if you're planning on using a dry heat method of cooking, you'll need to dry the piece of meat before it will sear. Otherwise, it'll just steam-cook.

                                              1. re: Phurstluv

                                                You're right - the meat should be fairly dry before you cook it. Assuming you're searing it on a hot grill, this is hardly a concern though.

                                                As for the 95% comment, I should have clarified. Go ask your butcher how their meat comes in to the store. I can guarantee that they will tell you it is cryovac packed in it's various primal cuts - often broken down further than that. Long gone are the days where a whole side of beef arrives in a refrigerated truck and the head butcher breaks it down. There are certainly some specialty stores which may still have that luxury and have the employed, skilled person to break it down, but that's why I said 95%, not 100%. The meat is taken from it's plastic packs, cut and then placed into the styrofoam trays where it is then wrapped and sealed with plastic wrap.

                                                1. re: SQHD

                                                  Got it. I was going to say, perhaps larger pieces of beef are cryovacked for shipping purposes, but then broken down by cut in the stores, and packaged for the consumer, not in water or cryovacs. Makes sense now.

                                            2. re: chef chicklet

                                              ChefC: Are you suggesting freezing the meat slightly and slicing it thin BEFORE marinating/cooking it? I've done that with beef for a stir fry, but I didn't consider that for the fajitas.

                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                That is what CC is suggesting and it's what I'm saying isn't worth doing... Well maybe it is if you're cooking fajitas in Minnesota in January.

                                                1. re: SQHD

                                                  Here it is Jan 2010, and I just noticed this response to my suggestion on making fajitas. I was amused at the numbered and attention I recieved to point out 1 by 1, his/her objections. For the few suggestions and recommendations I made, SQHD sure had a lot to say. I think I'm being completely misunderstood and I had a good laugh with the count down. That's what I get when I don't take the time to go step by step. Making fajitas is something that I don't find difficult, so my bad.
                                                  I stand by my dislike for for Swift pork CP, pork products. They stink, and they're slimey. I do not get all my meat packaged, I can guarantee that statement since you don't shop with me. I know I might not of been as concise with my instructions which is different for chicken, or pork and then beef. I do however make fajitas out of chicken, beef, lamb and pork. We make fajitas several different ways.
                                                  The one where the beef is marinated, Carne Asada when the beef is marinated, and the peppers and onions grilled sepearte then sliced, is one way.
                                                  But for a family and to save time, I have cut everything and grilled it quickly on my cast iron grill after marinating. Perhaps we are talking about a couple of different things. Go to any Mexican restaurants here in CA and the technique, the ingredients and taste will all be different. Good but different.
                                                  And honestly, I don't get what you're referring to with #4 i have no idea what you are saying. And anyone that's been on this board any length of time knows that I'm a fairly decent cook. Now I am going to kick my self for responding your post.

                                            3. So it sounds to me like my main problem was that I had a bad piece of meat to begin with. Then I made it worse by marinating it in lime, and maybe by overcooking it. If I'm tempted to try beef fajitas again, I'll use skirt steak, grill it quickly over high heat, let it rest and then slice it very thin. If I do all that, I guess I won't need to use an acid in the marinade. I didn't like the citrus flavor from the lime, and I don't think I'd care for the tartness of vinegar with the meat, either -- that's just a personal preference. I liked the rest of the seasonings I used in my marinade.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                Late post, I know, but I had this problem recently. Eight hours is too long a marinade, I think. A flank steak is delicious, but in my experience, starts to taste livery if marinated too long and in too much acid (food scientists, feedback?). I don't marinate anymore, favor a rub. Peace!

                                                1. re: southern_expat

                                                  two weeks ago on the Food Network Guy Fieri did flank steak in a unique way, which I duplicated and I could not believe how good and tender it was. I did one thing differently; I let it set in the fridge in the salt/pepper marinade for 1 1/2 days and instead of cooking it on a grill I cooked it on a ribbed frying pan. Check out his method on the Food Network.

                                                  1. re: jaalgo

                                                    I've done this type of thing many times with steaks. Kinda like a dry brining. I find it concentrates the flavor of the meat as some of the water is pulled out. I've done it a bunch a times with flank and skirt steak. They are thin so a couple of days in the fridge work well. I've never watched Guys show but glad it worked for you too.

                                              2. There hasn't been much talk about salt yet. I find that especially when i marinade if i add salt to red meat while it cooks it gets rather tough on me. without a sear on the meat, all your moisture from both the fat of the meat as well as your marinade end up as a black syrup that adds a rough dish washing experience to the already untasty meal.

                                                1. I've never had any luck with fajitas, either. Always tougher than a boot. Consequently, I've given up making them, even though I love 'em.

                                                  1. I have two suggestions after skimming through this list. For my best fajitas....
                                                    1) cook onion and peppers in a skillet, make sure that whatever you use for marinade had sugar... start slow until softened a bit, then crank up heat and ALMOST burn them.
                                                    2) I like doing the meat on the grill, this way you do not steam the marinated meat. If using a pan, make sure marinated meat is dry before hitting the hot surface.... When I grill it, I let it sit Five mins after your fav doneness and then slice across the grain...

                                                    1. I have good luck with fajitas using London broil or sirloin sliced thinly before cooking. I don't crowd the pan when browning the slices. I some times marinate the meat for a few hours, but have never used citrus, opting for wine, if I have it on hand, Worcestershire sauce, some garlic cloves, and it always comes out well.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: noodlepoodle

                                                        For some meats POUND THE CRAP OUT OF IT. Bladed hammers work best , but also "waffle iron" hammers do fine. Flat-surface pounders are good.

                                                        Then cut the meat into piece sizes you want, cook outsides fast to brown-crust, leave insides pink/red. Skirt steak is way better than flank. Thin cuts don't need pounding but flat-iron is best prepared with pounding.

                                                        Usually apply the hammer for cheaper cuts of meat. Then marinate/season 6-24 hours for flavor. Or jutst cut into goo-zized edible pieces rub them down with herbs and spices before cooking. USE HIGH HEAT.

                                                        Also try wrapping flank steak in paper towels or cheescloth for a few days to extract water. Then pound the snarf out of it out of it. A tenderizing hammer is an essential tool.

                                                        Another way of tenderizing tough really tough meat like brisket or chuck roast, is to brown it, then braise it for 4 hours (or half time in a pressure cooker), at which point it is easily shreddable.. Or braise it first, to softness, and then bown-fry it.

                                                      2. well, my $0.2 .. I've made carne asada, and it was great. But honestly I don't find skirt to be that flavoursome. In most recipes that require it, I find rump tends to give me a better flavour. Pasties, things like that.

                                                        and for fajitas... I'd probably give it (rump) a dry rub, maybe a touch of olive oil. Then pan fry it.