Grilled Skirt Steak Fajitas

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Note: If skirt is unavailable, substitute with hanger or sirloin flap (also sold as sirloin tip in New England—it's different from sirloin steak). Flank steak can also be used. For best flavor, grind your own chili powder from a mix of equal parts ancho and guajillo chilies.

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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Grilled Skirt Steak Fajitas

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About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 4 to 6
Active time:45 minutes
Total time:4 to 12 hours
Special equipment:Grill, cast iron pan
This recipe appears in: Serious Entertaining: A Meathead's Cookout The Food Lab: How To Make The Best Fajitas
Rated:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup lime juice from 6 to 8 limes
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (see note above)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 pounds trimmed skirt steak (about 1 whole steak), cut crosswise into 5- to 6-inch pieces (see here for detailed trimming instructions)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 1 large green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 1 white or yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 12 to 16 fresh flour or corn tortillas, hot
  • 1 recipe guacamole, for serving, if desired
  • 1 recipe Pico de Gallo, for serving, if desired
  • Sour cream, shredded cheese, and salsa, for serving, if desired

Procedures

  1. 1

    Combine soy sauce, lime juice, canola oil, brown sugar, cumin, black pepper, chili powder, and garlic in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Transfer 1/2 cup of marinade to a large bowl and set aside. Place steaks in a gallon-sized zipper-lock bag and add remaining marinade. Seal bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. Massage bag until meat is fully coated in marinade. Lay flat in the refrigerator, turning every couple of hours for at least 3 hours and up to 10.

  2. 2

    While steak marinates, toss peppers and onions in bowl with reserved 1/2 cup marinade. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  3. 3

    When ready to cook, remove steaks from marinade, wipe off excess, and transfer to a large plate. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.

  4. 4

    Place a large cast iron skillet over cooler side of grill. Transfer steaks to hot side of grill. Cover and cook for 1 minute. Flip steaks, cover and cook for another minute. Continue cooking in this manner—flipping and covering—until steaks are well-charred and an instant-read thermometer inserted into their center registers 115 to 120°F for medium-rare or 125 to 130°F for medium. Transfer steaks to a large plate, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

  5. 5

    Meanwhile, transfer cast iron skillet to hot side of grill and allow to preheat for 2 minutes. Add pepper and onion mix and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to char in spots, about 10 minutes. When vegetables are cooked, transfer steaks to a cutting board and pour any accumulated juices from the plate into the skillet with the vegetables. Toss to coat.

  6. 6

    Transfer vegetables to a warm serving platter. Thinly slice meat against the grain and transfer to platter with vegetables. Serve immediately with hot tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo, and other condiments as desired.

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