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How do you make skirt steaks tender?

I love the beefiness of the meat but it's almost impossible to cut as well as chew. I bought some the other day, put my rub on them and tossed them on the grill for a few minutes on each side. It was like eating the proverbial shoe. The only way to swallow was to cut pieces small enough. Would a few days in a marinade make a difference?

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  1. It's just a matter of slicing it thinly and against the grain.

    2 Replies
    1. re: caganer

      Especially against the grain.

      1. re: sr44

        In Argentina. Uruguay, and other countries where they are especially popular, skirts are often served on long, narrow wood planks with a serious steak knife to enable the slicing. When prepared correctly from good beef, it is a wonderful experience. Flavorful, and never dry.

    2. Mucho, there is an inner and an outer skirt, and debate about which is preferable. The inner has a more purplish color, and may have a membrane that should have been removed during the butchering process. An overnight marinade is a good idea. Also, choose one with the most fat and marbling, and grill it really hot for a very short time. Goes well with a chimichurri sauce.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Veggo

        I Always choose the one with the most fat. That's the best part. What sort of marinade would not detract from the beefiness? I tried cutting across the grain but found it easier to pull pieces off along the grain. Also love a good chimichurri; just sounds like there's too much prep involved. A co-worker from Argentina used to make a jar for me. It wasn't the spicy kind but tasted great.

      2. Pounding, combined with acid.....citrus, wine, vinegar...

        That's how the Latin cooks handle it.

        Asians will use soy sauce and Baking power.... or Kiwi Fruit/Papaya

        1. I've experienced this with skirt steak before. Removed membrane, rubbed, cooked very hot and fast, cut across the grain and biased, and was rewarded with shoe leather.

          I think long marinades can help but at least in my experience the variance in quslity with skirt is quite large.

          Perhaps I don't know what to look for when purchasing skirt steak.

          1. One of the things I like about skirt steak is its chewiness. It shouldn't be tough as shoe leather, but it should be chewier than most steaks. As said by others, get the fattiest skirt you can find. I marinate it in citrus juices...orange and lime, sometimes grapefruit, sometimes added pineapple if I have it. I barely add any olive oil to the marinade, as the steak is so fatty. Usually some chipotle tabasco and some sugar. I grill it very hot....make sure it has a nice glazed crust, but I have to eat it medium well. I'm OK with lean steaks being medium or medium rare, but fatty stuff has to be more done. Use the best steak knife you have, and cut it across the grain into small pieces before you eat it. I always like a chimichurri. I make mine from 1 bunch cilantro, 1 bunch mint, 1 red onion, a hot pepper, juice of half a lime, and lots of olive oil. I'm making myself hungry now!

            1. beat the #e)( out of 'em :)))))))

              love a good marinade for a couple of hours too.
              get the grill pan spankin inferno hot, plop on, stand there to be ready to give 'er a flip, do it, then like 2 min on last side, off grill, let rest and use your new Bobby Flay knives you got for Christmas. oh no, sorry I'm talkin about me experience....

              1. Have made many skirts. Never hard to cut. Slices easily against the grain and is tender to chew. It ain't tenderloin

                1. Just marinade for fajitas (pineapple juice, garlic, plus whatever powdered seasoning you like) and cook on high heat for just a few minutes till well browned with a little char on the outside but pink on the inside. Sooo tender. Cutting against the grain is essential. Skirt for fajitas is a favorite meal of mine that we have as a family when I go home to Texas.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: luckyfatima

                    sounds great! how long do you let your skirt steak sit in the pineapple juice marinade? I bet the sugar from the juice makes a lovely crust on the beef!

                  2. Skirt steak is not supposed to be "tender".

                    You can and should, as others have suggested, cut it against the bias so that it is not "chewy". To a certain extent, you can also make less chewy but cooking it medium-rare, or medium at the most.

                    Part of the appeal of skirt steak for me, aside from its taste, is its rather sturdy constitution when teeth-meets-meat.

                    1. I cook mine in a salted skillet and serve it rare, preferably with a little salted and peppered red wine reduction. As long as it stops at rare it seems reasonably tender but it gets tough quickly at medium rare and beyond, at least in my experience.

                      1. Forgive the repetitiveness from some earlier responses, but to put it all in one place:

                        1) Completely remove membranes from both sides.
                        2) Jacquard with Adoph's Meat Tenderizer (Unseasoned) or other brand. Do not confuse with MSG (as some people do). Use sparingly as even the unseasoned is very salty. This is a completely natural substance made of bromelain (pineapple) or papain (papaya). You can usually find this in or near the meat dept. but not the spice aisle. Note that this speeds up cooking times dramatically.
                        3) Do not cook past medium rare -- a minute or two each side on a screeching hot grill or griddle.
                        4) Even if putting sections on the plate as steaks (i.e. not Fajitas) cut at least on the bias if not across grain when eating.

                        As mentioned, it's supposed to be a little chewy but is well worth it for the flavor.

                        If you want something with similar flavor but more tender, try looking for "Sirloin Flap Meat." But I still prefer Skirt.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: acgold7

                          I haven't seen Adolph's with papain in quite some time in my area. I will point out that the major ingredient in Adolph's is salt.

                          1. re: rudeboy

                            Right, Adolph's uses bromelain. Other brand tenderizers use papain. And yes, that accounts for my comment about it being incredibly salty, even the "Unseasoned" version. Sorry if I was unclear.

                        2. Marinate overnight using an acid like orange or lemon juice in the marinade, then cook med rare and slice thin against the grain. Yum!

                          1. Shirley Corriher says:

                            "There is a commonly held belief that soaking a tough cut of meat in a marinade will make it tender. Sadly, this just isn't true much of the time. While some marinades are very successful at adding flavor to meat, chicken, and fish, they are, with one exception, a disaster at tenderizing."


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: C. Hamster

                              Thanks, I never understood the marinade approach for tougher cuts of meat unless that marinade includes actual enzymes like papaya.

                            2. I don't believe anyone's thought to ask, how do you like your meat?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: knucklesandwich

                                Ordinarily, I like it as rare as possible. Oddly enough, however, I'm beginning to think that rare and well done meat isn't as tender as med cooked

                              2. Soak unmarinated meat in a mixture of 2 tsp baking soda to one cup water, for 20 min. Rinse several times, pat dry, and cook. This is what ATK recommends to tenderize diced pork and chicken before stirfrying. Tried it and was very impressed, so I experimented using it on flap meat (sirloin tip) and got the same good result. I don't think this would work on a thick piece of meat, but half an inch, or a little more, works well. The baking soda inactivates an enzyme that, when heat is applied, causes the protein strands to tighten up, forcing water out and leading to tougher, drier meat. Without that enzyme, the meat stays juicier and less chewy.

                                1. sous vide at 130-135F for 24 hrs.
                                  then sear the outside.
                                  it will be tender, AND still med rare

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: weedy

                                    I just did flap SV. Very nice after a little sear. Larger margin of error than grilling alone

                                  2. I always have the butcher score the skirts.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ferret

                                      Sometimes the market has them this way but then they resemble a cube steak and sort of turn into mush.

                                    2. Marinade and tenderize.
                                      Th best marinade is, as has been noted, pineapple juice. It is better than other acidic citrus juices.
                                      The other night I watched an Iron Chef America episode on flank steak with Morimoto. He used a Jaccard tenderizer with gusto on the steak. I acquired one. Works like a champ. Flank steak, skirt steak. Works great.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Enigma3

                                        I consider teriyaki sauce to be the best marinade because it includes pineapple juice for the tenderizing enzymes, and soy for what is in effect a salt brine. In addition, it's loaded with umami for extra flavor.