Skirt steak is one of the more compelling reasons that a ridged, cast iron pan is a worthy investment for your kitchen. It’s one of the best cuts off the grill—a high fat-to-meat ratio helps keep it rich and moist—and it adapts incredibly well to off-summer adventures on the stove. This particular recipe is from The Best of Gourmet: A Year of Celebrations, an über-fancy, photo-laden dinner party cookbook that has hidden in its less-glamorous final 100 pages a collection of absolutely spot-on recipes.
A food-processor sauce comes together in the same amount of time it takes the steak to finish cooking and rest. Flank steak would also work for this recipe, a similar, leaner cut that’s sometimes easier to find, and which has a more profound beefy flavor (though with less fat, it’s harder to cook perfectly). Either way, cutting the meat across the grain is essential—on a flank cut, the grain usually goes lengthwise along the steak, while on skirt it's crosswise. You can further thwart the inevitable chewiness of both these cuts by slicing on the bias at a 45 degree angle, which helps make thinner slices.
At first I’d thought about serving the steak on a bed of greens with extra sauce, allowing the cilantro-garlic pesto to seep down and season everything. But if I’d had some flour tortillas in the fridge, this would have been rolled up with some chopped onions and another sprinkle of the cilantro.
- For the sauce:
- 1 medium garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- For the steak:
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pounds skirt steak, cut to manageable grilling sizes (you may have to do batches)
Combine the steak spices in a small bowl. Pat the steak dry so that the surface is tacky, then rub the spice mixture into both sides. Turn on the burner to high under the grill pan to get it heating.
Meanwhile, mince the garlic and mash to a paste with the salt (the flat edge of a chef’s knife works well for this). Transfer to a blender or mini food processor with the rest of the sauce ingredients, and blend until smooth.
Rub the grill pan with a bit of oil, and grill the steak about 5 minutes per side for a typical cut (medium rare). Once it’s cooked and rested, slice thinly and drizzle with the sauce.