Pan Seared Skirt Steak
An easy and low cost weekday steak dinner
- Servings: 4.
Skirt steak is one of the most over-looked and unappreciated cuts of beef. Yet it's inexpensive, very flavorful, quick to cook, and adaptable to a variety of recipes. The same can be said of the smaller but similar hanger steak which usually costs even less.
I find that the skirt and hanger cuts have such a rich, beefy flavor that I actually eat less of it than when I have one of my most favorite New York strip steaks. But one warning: if skirt or hanger steaks are cooked too long, to medium or well done, they can become tough.
Skirt and hanger steaks are best cooked fast and simply. Don't think you should be doing some fancy marinade because here, a simple rub is actually preferable. Be sure to use a fry or sauté pan that can also go into the oven.
The skirt steak is really versatile. Slicing it against the grain helps counter any toughness and because it's served in slices, it's perfect for fajitas, placed on top of a simple romaine and raw red pepper salad dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette, seasoned with a rub of cayenne and sea salt and served with a side of steamed broccoli, mixed with oven roasted tomatoes and rotini pasta, or served in thick slices alongside pungent green vegetables like kale or broccoli rabe.
- 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak cut into pieces that will fit into a sauté pan
- 2 tablespoons canola or extra virgin olive oil
- About 3 to 4 tablespoons of a favorite spice or mix of spices and aromatics. Choose flavors that you love and that you would like to have faintly echoing your steak. For example:
- 2 tablespoons cumin plus 2 teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon ground pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper -- OR
- 2 tablespoons sumac plus 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon ground pepper -- OR
- Finely minced garlic and ginger that's been scraped on a rasper, plus some salt and ground pepper -- OR
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice plus 2 tablespoons finely minced scallion -- OR
- Balsamic vinegar (good stuff but not the special aged kind) plus minced garlic and shallots -- OR
- For a slightly sweet flavor: 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground pepper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400° F.
- Bring the steaks to room temperature (take out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before cooking.
- The skirt steaks may come in very long strips. Cut them into managable sizes, such about 6-inch lengths so as to easily fit into a 12" fry or sauté pan.
- In a small bowl make a mixture of your rub. Put the steaks into a sheet pan or baking dish and apply the rub to each piece on both sides.
- Bring the fry or sauté pan to a high heat. Add the oil and heat until it's very hot, almost but not quite smoking.
- Place the steaks into the pan and cook about 1 1/2 minutes a side.
- After cooking both sides and having the steaks become nicely brown, put them into the pre-heated 400° F oven for about 5 minutes until medium rare.
Tip: To tell if the steaks are done, instead of using a meat thermometer, just touch them. If they still feel very squishy and soft, put them back into the oven for another minute or two and touch them again. You'll know that the steaks are medium rare when they're still tender but also more firm when you touch them.
Make sure to let the steaks rest (tented with foil) for about 10 minutes after they're done to let the juices settle back in place.
Simple Pan Sauce
Skirt steaks are best cooked simply and combined with other ingredients to make an interesting and full-flavored meal. But if you want to simply serve it as a straight-forward piece of beef, you can still use the brown tasty pieces left behind in the sauté pan to make a simple sauce.
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup finely minced shallots
1/2 cup chicken or beef stock (good boxed broth is fine)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon finely minced fresh thyme
- While the steaks are resting, take the same pan the steaks were cooked in that still has all the cooked pieces left on the bottom of the pan and add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Melt the butter.
- Add the shallots and cook until soft and translucent. About 2 minutes.
- Add the wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Turn up the heat a little so that the wine bubbles and boils down until it's syrupy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the stock and thyme, keeping the heat medium-high so that it comes to a boil and reduces until about 1/3 of liquid remains.
- Lower the heat and add the mustard, stirring to combine.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, a 1/2 tablespoon at a time.
- Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Slice the steak into thin, 1/2" slices, cutting across the grain, the short way. Drizzle with the sauce. Serve with steamed potatoes and al dente haricots verts.
Gourmet's Sumac Skirt Steak with Pomegrante Reduction
Think skirt steak isn't fancy enough for company? Here's an easy but showy way to combine the rich beef flavor of the skirt steak with the sweetness of pomegranate and tang of sumac. It's from the September 2006 issue of Gourmet.