Why It Works
- Skirt steak is a particularly good cut for marinating, with its heavy grain and ability to pick up flavors.
- Grilling over very high heat builds a nice charred crust while ensuring the center of the steak has a buttery, medium-rare to medium, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
For my money, there's no better cut for marinating and grilling than skirt steak. It has a deep grain that sops up flavors nicely, and a rich, buttery texture that becomes meltingly tender when grilled over high heat. This version gets a garlicky, citrusy marinade based on Cuban mojo.
The key to cooking skirt steak is heat, and plenty of it. It's a relatively thin cut of meat, which means that it cooks fast. In order to get that great contrast between the crisp, charred exterior and warm, moist center, you need to really blast it. How do we do this? By using a two-zone fire—a fire in which all of the coals are piled up under one side of the grill, maximizing heat under the steak.
Some steaks are best medium-rare, but skirt steak, with its coarse grain and high fat content, is better at around medium, where its somewhat slippery texture turns moist and juicy. Once it's cooked, you'll want to slice it against the grain to shorten its long muscle fibers, resulting in slices that are more tender.
As for the marinade, it's tasty enough that I'm loathed to waste any of it. That's why I recommend reducing the extra marinade in a pan on the stovetop (or on the grill), thickening it slightly and using it as a post-cooking sauce for the meat. That last-minute hit of acidity really brings out the steak's flavor. Turns out that sometimes double-dipping can be a good thing.
This steak is great as-is or with some simple grilled potatoes, but it's also delicious tucked into corn or flour tortillas with some salsa. Plan on doing so if you have leftovers (which, to be fair, is an unlikely scenario).
For the Steak:
2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat (see notes)
2 tablespoons juice from about 2 limes, plus 1 extra lime for serving
1/4 cup juice from 1 orange
2/3 cup olive oil, divided
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems
Place skirt steak a resealable bag and add lime and orange juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, garlic, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Seal and squish around to combine. Place in the refrigerator to marinate at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
When ready to cook, remove meat from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Transfer marinade to a small saucepan and simmer until reduced by half over medium heat.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set half the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
Place skirt steak on hot side of grill and cook, flipping occasionally, until well-charred and an instant-read thermometer inserted into their center registers 115°F to 120°F (46°C to 49°C) for medium-rare or 125°F to 130°F (52°C to 54°C) for medium. Transfer steak to a large plate, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Alternatively, to finish indoors: Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil in a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add steak and cook, turning frequently, until well-browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center reads 115°F to 120°F for medium-rare or 125°F to 130°F for medium. Reduce heat as necessary if steak smokes excessively or starts to burn. Transfer to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and allow to rest 10 minutes.
Slice steak against the grain, drizzle with pan sauce and sprinkle with cilantro. Cut extra lime into wedges and serve with steak.
Grill, chimney starter, instant-read thermometer
An equivalent weight of flap, hanger, or flank steak can be used in place of skirt steak. This steak can also be prepared indoors. See Step 5 for pan-frying instructions.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 70g||89%|
|Saturated Fat 18g||92%|
|Total Carbohydrate 4g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 11mg||53%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|