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Oct 17, 2009 03:44 PM

Skirt Steak Slicing?

Why is it that almost every recipe I've seen with skirt steak calls for it to be sliced thinly, against the grain? I just made a pan-fried skirt steak with a wine-butter sauce that was served as a traditional steak. That is, the person eating it sliced it as they would a strip teak (or filet, or ribeye, etc.). It was excellent.

It was no more "chewy" than a strip steak, yet the flavor was delicious. For me, the texture was good as well. I'm curious on some thoughts here (do you agree or not?). Do you think recipes suggest this because skirt steak is usually made in some type of soft taco-style preparation?

Just curious.

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  1. it's chewy if cut with the grain, and most people don't know how to slice steak, so as someone writing a recipe it makes sense to suggest to slice it across the grain. skirt lends itself to this type of presentation as well, which is likely part of the thought process.

    cutting a skirt steak incorrectly will have a much greater impact that cutting a ribeye, or certainly a filet, incorrectly.

    1. I prefer to slice skirt steak across the grain but slightly on the oblique and paper thin.

      2 Replies
      1. re: todao

        I do the same-against the grain and a slight angle for skirt, and flank steak too.

        1. re: monavano

          Thanks for noting the angular cut. I had forgotten to include that important part of the process (to expose more meat surface) in the description.

      2. jfood has probably served 50 skirt steaks over the last two summers, he loves them. Before the marinade, he lays them flat and cuts into individual portions, 5-6". Then the marinade and onto the grill. A few minutes per side, some rest on the plate and he serves in a single piece on the plate. he lets the gusts cut as they please.

        Now if jfood were to slice he would absolutely slice against the grain and on a severe angle. The latter would be even more severe than the angle he uses on the flank steaks he also loves.

        11 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          that severe angle will effectively lengthen the grain in each piece, rendering them more tough and chewy than if you didn't cut at an angle. it looks pretty, but i don't think it's very functional if you're looking for tender meat.

          1. re: tommy

            Very good point tommy. the other end of the spectrum would be verticle cuts on a plate. jfood would take that trade while others might not.

            in any event he serves them as a whole chunk of steak, not cut at all.

            1. re: tommy

              I agree with your point, tommy, but as long as I maintain paper thin slices when slicing across the grain the effective lengthening of the meat fibers doesn't seem to make the meat intolerably chewy. The chewiness does become an issue if the slices get too thick however.

              1. re: todao

                certainly stick with what works for you! i'm just adding some science to the discussion.

                1. re: tommy

                  To make a sandwich I make several cuts across the grain, and then with the grain but do not go all the way through. I then flip the steak over and repeat the process. Makes it easy to take a bite and easy to chew while maintaining the single piece of meat.

            2. re: jfood

              So, you've outdone me by five. But how many hangers have you cooked?Kidding...
              Of these 50, did the tenderness vary? Tender is a bit subjective in my book. Some of us don't have sharp teeth any more! Perhaps no teef! I had some veal that was fork cutable...
              I don't mind a little bit of chewing so I haven't had too many skirt steaks (cooked rare-med-rare), that I have objected to, without slicing it thin. How about you? (Others, too) Has tenderness varied so much that you had to slice it thin?

              1. re: Scargod

                Only 2 hangers but maybe tonight if butcher has one.

                The tenderness has been pretty consistent. Jfood marinades them for at least 8 hours in a glad bag in a bottled marinade name Wasabiyaki (he kids you not). When jfood eats skirts he seems to take smaller pieces thanwhen he eats a PH or strip.

                As far as the rest of your questions, ne molar gets a crown next week leaving only one molar as original equipment. Steak always med-rare and jfood has never needed to slice against the grain to serve. Flank steak of course is a different discussion.

                1. re: jfood

                  To really confuse hounds...................
                  If it's an outside skirt, I slice against the grain, an inside skirt I slice with the grain (it's not as chewy).
                  Either way, that's my slicing in my individual dinner plate. Like jfood, I cook them in 6" lengths and serve 'whole'.

                  I marinate in a vinegarette

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    A serious inquiry: what's the difference between inside and outside skirt?
                    I'm assuming it's the in the same location on the animal but beyond that...

                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      Coulda swore there were some posts here and now, not. may muddy the water.
                      I think the consensus is the inner skirt is tenderer. That's what Wikipedia says...
                      They are in the same location, sorta. The inner is inside the outer. That's four pieces of skirt per animal. Then there's the single "hanger" steak below.

                    2. re: bagelman01

                      For reference here is a post where inside/outside skirt was discussed. Good pictures showing the difference.


              2. When I was a kid growing up, my parents served skirt steak all the time.

                It wasn't in vogue at the time, just one of the cheapest, tastiest cuts of steak. No one knew to cut it on the bias back then. It is a little chewier, when not cut against the grain. But, it doesn't affect the flavor one bit. ; )

                1. I've been eating skirt steak longer than it's been cool (any south Texans will agree, it's the traditional tex-mex fajita meat). It's more in the prep. You have to beat it pretty good and marinate well and cook hot and fast.