Monday, June 16, 2008

Fresh herbs and skirt steak

One of my favorite steaks (o.k, maybe my favorite) is the humble and misunderstood skirt steak. In many meat books, it is referred to as a braising cut. While this may be true, it is also great cooked quickly to medium-rare. While many beef cuts, including the skirt, are great on the grill, it's the skirts ability to be cooked to perfection in a pan on the stove in minutes that makes me love it. While it is usually advisable to cook steak (and most meats) from room temperature, I make an exception for this cut. It is so thin that it can be hard to get a great sear before over-cooking the inside so I always cook it right out of the fridge. Anything past medium rare is overcooked for any steak. This is not an opinion, it is fact.

One of the less appreciated techniques for infusing fresh herbs into meat is my favorite. Simply sear the meat by placing it directly on top of the herbs (in this case rosemary) in a screaming hot skillet. The herbs will often nearly burn but the flavor will completely permeate the meat.

I took a skirt steak from the fridge and seasoned it with a little salt and equal quantities of fresh ground, course black pepper and red pepper flakes (not crushed red pepper). Heat a skillet until it is smoking, add a small amount of fat, set your herbs of choice in the pan and the steak goes on top. One of the problems people seem to have when cooking steak in a pan is that pockets of steam get trapped underneath and compromise the crust by creating those un-crispy gray spots. Contact with the pan is crucial. To accomplish this I like to use a weight. A smaller cast iron skillet or a brick wrapped in foil will make a perfect weight.

It only takes a couple of minutes on the each side to get a crispy crust and leave the inside rare to medium-rare.

All you need is a splash of your favorite beer, wine, stock, vinegar or other liquid (in this case Marsala) in the hot pan to make a quick pan sauce and a side of fresh, local steamed asparagus drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of any great topping salt and you've got a perfect meal.

Go to your local butcher today and save the skirts from the meat grinder.


OhioMom said...

Okay, I confess I am not a "beefeater" :), but your dish does look terrific, what I like it the, may I say less expensive cut of meat, looks tender and juicy.

Good tip on the herbs!

Jerry said...

Hey Spiceguy...

Can I do this with fish and a cast iron skillet?

Kevin Scheuring said...

Absolutely! Just keep the heat high and be careful not to overcook it.

pchak said...

Looks fantastic! Unfortunately, I don't think many skirts are going to the grinder. Sadly, they've become high-margin, specialty cuts. I'll still pay, as it's one of my favorite cuts, too!

Kevin Scheuring said...

Ed told me that he doesn't always have luck selling them so they sometimes end up in the grinder. I usually request that he hold them for me. I suspect that the butcher shops with a more savvy clientele have no trouble but at least two shops that I go to usually just grind them. Unfortunately, the price I'm being charged has jumped from the $1.99 "ground chuck" price to $4.99 but I'm happy to pay it.

guv said...

hola spicehound!

nice pics. could one use a similar process w/ flank steak?



Kevin Scheuring said...

Sure. I would start it from room temp. because it's thicker and less likely to over cook.