A skirt steak taco should be a simple thing, so why do so many places get it wrong? Much of the trouble comes down to the cooking method. Too many taquerias let the beef cook forever on a griddle, only checking on it to chop up the bits with a spatula. Skirt steak deserves better.
Sure, it loves high heat, but the steak also needs to be coddled, or it will pay back your carelessness by being tough and chewy. Basically, it needs to be treated like the steak it is. Cook it to medium-rare, let it rest, and then cut it against the grain into thin slices.
As Kenji found out, a fierce charcoal fire is probably the best option, but without the abilities to set one up in the winter, I settled for the next best thing: my oven's broiler. Setting the rack to the highest position, I was able to get a great char on the beef, while nailing the desired medium-rare.
With the broiler ready to go, I couldn't help but add some rajas, or poblano strips. Much spicier than bell peppers, with a distinct smoky profile from the flame, they go exceptionally well with beef. Just char them under the broiler, steam in a bag for ten minutes, and their blackened skins fall right off. Now they are ready to be stemmed, seeded, and cut into thin strips.
An assertive tomatillo salsa would do well here, but I wanted something creamy to counter the crisp and assertive ingredients. Only guacamole would do. This is not the time for a bland dip; make a spicy version and don't be skimpy with the lime juice.
Tasting sort of like mini-burritos with all the extraneous ingredients expelled, two of these skirt steak tacos make for a solid meal, though some pinto beans would also help round this meal out.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- 1 pound skirt steak, trimmed of any fat or silver-skin
- 2 tablespoons fresh juice from about 2 limes, plus 1 quartered lime for garnish
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 whole poblano peppers
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1/4 white onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 8 small radishes, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
- 8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
Cut the skirt steak into four equally sized portions. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon lime juice to a small baking dish, add the skirt steak, tossing it in the juice. Set aside for ten minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through.
Meanwhile, adjust rack to four inches below broiler element. Preheat broiler to high. Place the poblanos on a sheet pan wrapped in aluminum foil, and set under the broiler. Cook until charred on top, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip char on the other side, another three to four minutes. Transfer peppers to a medium bowl, cover tightly in plastic wrap, and let steam for ten minutes. Remove blackened skin with your fingers. Cut off the stems, remove the seeds, and then cut the flesh into 1/4-inch wide strips.
Remove the skirt steak pieces from the dish, and use a paper towel to dry the pieces. Place the pieces on the sheet pan and set underneath the broiler. Cook until browned on the top, 3 to 4 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Flip the steaks and brown on the other side, until thickest part of steak registers 125 to 130°F on an instant read thermometer and surface is well browned, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer to cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, plit avocados in half, remove pits, and scoop out flesh into a medium bowl. Mash with a potato masher or large spoon. Stir in the garlic, white onion, jalapeño, and a tablespoon of lime juice. Season with salt to taste.
Warm the tortillas on a 10-inch skillet set over medium heat for a few seconds until soft and pliant. Slice steak thinly against the grain. To construct for serving, add a few pieces of sliced steak to each tortilla, and top with rajas, guacamole, and sliced radish. Serve with lime wedges.