Skirt steak is a flavorful cut of beef that can be grilled, broiled, or pan-fried. It’s sometimes called “fajita meat” because it’s perfect for making fajitas. Skirt steak is also great for making tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, and it’s just as good served on its own as a main course. But what is it exactly? Where does it come from on the cow? How lean is it? And how best do you cook it? Let’s dive into all you need to know.
Table of Contents
- What is skirt steak?
- What are outside and inside skirts?
- How do skirt steaks compare to other steak cuts?
- How thick is skirt steak?
- What does skirt steak taste like?
- Is skirt steak lean? Is it healthy?
- Is skirt steak expensive?
- How to cook skirt steak for the best flavor
- What temperature is best for skirt steak?
- How to slice skirt steak
- Must-read related posts
What is skirt steak?
Skirt steak is a long, flat cut of beef that comes from the plate or flank section of the cow. It’s well-marbled with fat, which gives it great flavor. The downside is that the fat can make skirt steak a bit tough if it’s not cooked correctly.
Skirt steak is popular in Mexican, South American, and Asian cuisines. It’s often used in stir-fries, fajitas, and satay. As mentioned, it’s often called “fajita meat” because the marbling of skirt steak makes it an excellent choice for fajitas – the fat helps keep the steak juicy and flavorful when grilled. And since skirt steak is a thin cut, it cooks quickly, making it perfect for busy weeknight meals.
What are outside and inside skirts?
There are two types of skirt steak: inside and outside. Both come from the plate section of the cow, but they’re cut from different parts.
The outside skirt steak is located on the cow’s diaphragm, near the ribs. It’s a long, flat muscle that runs along the cow’s belly. The outside skirt steak is tougher than the inside skirt and has more connective tissue.
The inside skirt steak is located on the cow’s pelvic bone, near the loin. It’s a small, triangular muscle that’s attached to the diaphragm. The inside skirt steak is more tender than the outside skirt steak but has less flavor.
The easiest way to tell an inside skirt from an outside skirt is to look at the shape. An outside skirt steak is long and flat, while an inside skirt is small and triangular.
How do skirt steaks compare to other steak cuts?
The two steak cuts most often considered along with skirt steak are flank and hanger steaks. Here’s a topline on how they compare:
- Flank steak: Flank steak is a bit tougher than skirt steak and has a more distinct grain. It’s also a bit leaner, so it can be less flavorful. Flank steak is best when marinated before cooking to help tenderize it.
- Hanger steak: Hanger steak is another flavorful but tough cut of beef. It’s a bit more fatty than flank steak and has a finer grain. Like skirt steak, it’s best when marinated before cooking.
Take a look at our comparison posts to learn even more similarities and differences:
How thick is skirt steak?
Skirt steak is a thin cut of beef, typically 1/4 to 1 inch thick. The thickness will vary depending on where the steak is cut from on the cow.
What does skirt steak taste like?
It has a rich, beefy flavor with a bit of sweetness from the fat. The taste is similar to flank steak but not as tough. And skirt steak tends to have a touch more flavor.
Is skirt steak lean? Is it healthy?
Skirt steak is relatively lean, with about 10 grams of fat per serving. It’s also a good source of protein, with about 26 grams per serving. Skirt steak is also a good source of iron and zinc. So, yes – skirt steak is lean and generally considered healthy. However, as with all meats, it’s best to eat them in moderation.
In terms of nutritional values, a 3-ounce serving of cooked, lean skirt steak provides about:
- 170 calories
- 26 grams of protein
- 10 grams of fat
- 3 grams of saturated fat
- 0 grams of carbohydrates
- 70 milligrams of cholesterol
- 1 gram of dietary fiber
- 20 milligrams of sodium
Is skirt steak expensive?
Skirt steak is a less expensive beef cut than some other more popular cuts, such as ribeye or filet mignon. However, it’s still a flavorful cut that can be cooked in a variety of ways.
How to cook skirt steak for the best flavor
When it comes to cooking, skirt steak is best cooked hot and fast. That means either grilling or pan-frying over high heat. It’s important not to overcook skirt steak, or it will become tough. But when cooked correctly, it can be quite tender. Keep it that medium-rare to medium temperature for the best flavor.
A great way to prepare skirt steak is to first soak it in a marinade for at least an hour. This is a perfect steak cut to use with a flavorful marinade. They help to tenderize the meat and add flavor. Then, cook it quickly over high heat, as mentioned.
What temperature is best for skirt steak?
It’s best to cook skirt steak to medium-rare (130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit) or medium (about 140 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.) Any more than that, and the steak will start to get tough.
Here are some cooking times for skirt steak:
- 1/4-inch thick: 2 to 3 minutes per side
- 1/2-inch thick: 3 to 4 minutes per side
- 1-inch thick: 4 to 5 minutes per side
Remember, this is a thin steak, so less is more with some of these temperatures. The best way to know if your steak is done is to use a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the steak and cook until it reaches the desired temperature.
How to slice skirt steak
It’s important to slice skirt steak against the grain. That means slicing it perpendicular to the long lines of muscle fibers. This will help to make the steak more tender.
When slicing, be sure to use a sharp knife. A dull knife will just tear through the meat and make it tougher.
Must-read related posts
- How To Tenderize Skirt Steak: Tenderizing helps make your meat as flavorful as can be.
- What Is The Red Liquid In Steak? It may not be what you think it is.
- All About Marbling In Meat: What is it and why does it matter to your steak’s flavor.