I'm getting pushy here Dear Reader. Skirt steak is apparently becoming one of the most popular cuts here in Australia. Skirt is different from flank and is a lean cut that is also packed with flavour. We boost the flavour even more and tenderise it with a citrus chimichurri style marinade and sauce. If you're a steak lover this may just be your new best friend!
Sometimes people ask me about food trends and I respond by putting on a professional thinkers pose (haha no!) and then just answering about whatever I am eating at the time. Because if I had a crystal ball sort of mind I think I'd channel that into technology and invest in stocks.
Sometimes you get an idea of trends from talking to people in the food industry. I was at a newly opened butcher 1888 in Double Bay and I asked them what was happening in world of meat. The first thing they said was that skirt steak was becoming very popular. Sometimes restaurants or a television show starts a trend and then a home cook adopts it to make it home. They wrapped me up a small skirt steak to experiment with.
Skirt steak is different from flank steak. It's a popular cut in Argentina where it is called an Entraña. It's a curious cut because it is very lean but also full of flavour. The trade off is that is can be on the chewy side so if you like a tender, melty cut then perhaps it isn't for you. But if you like a steak that you can chew on that delivers in spades for flavour, then the skirt steak might be your new best friend.
Let's take a look at it. You can see the long fibres of muscle clearly. It looks very different from a lot of other cuts. I thought what if we could break down the muscle tissue through a marinade? Especially a flavoursome marinade like a chimichurri style one? I had ulterior motives for this as I had a bunch of parsley and mint that I wanted to use before I went away so I threw both into the processor. Parsley is one of the main ingredients in chimichurri but mint isn't but I wanted to give it a go. And I wanted to use citrus acids to help break down the connective tissue so in that went too. Usually I use lemons but I had a bowl of blood oranges.
I marinated the steak overnight and salted it to draw out some of the excess water before throwing it on a hellishly hot pan for just three minutes on each side. I also didn't want to waste the chimichurri marinade because extra virgin olive oil is expensive so I heated it up gently and served it on the side. I cut the steak against the grain which is what you should do especially for tougher cuts and we ate it with salad.
Holy mother of religious food moments, this was a great steak. Actually, scratch that - this was one of the most flavour packed and delicious steaks I've ever had. Even Mr NQN who never orders steak (he grew up eating raw vegetables so his instinct is to eschew steak) devoured this steak happily. I've never seen him enjoy a steak like this. Marinating it made it much less chewy and whilst it isn't buttery soft like say a tenderloin (it never will be) it was tender and full of flavour. And if you're a steak lover I urge you to make this beauty. Just make double and invite friends over too. I served it with this beetroot and crispy kale salad.
So tell me Dear Reader, what is your favourite steak cut? Have you ever tried skirt steak? Do you keep up with food trends? What do you think is the next big food trend?
Argentine Style Skirt Steak with Chimmichurri Style Sauce
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella
Degree of difficulty: easy
Preparation time: 10 minutes but overnight marinating time and 20 minutes draining time
Cooking time: 6 minutes plus 15 minutes resting time
- 1 skirt steak (the one I had about 1 kilo/2 pounds but they can be much longer, cut into half if you need to and double the rest of the ingredients depending on the weight)
- 1 cup parsley and mint leaves
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 blood orange or orange
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- salt for sprinkling
- Oil for cooking
- 1 teaspoon of butter
Step 1 - Place the herbs, garlic, oil, orange juice and vinegar in a food processor and blitz until you get a puree. Place the skirt steak in a bag and pour over with the marinade mixture, massaging it a little and distributing it in the bag. Place in the fridge to marinate overnight.
Step 2 - About 45 minutes before you want to eat it, take the steak out and wipe off the marinade (you don't have to be precise and wash it, just remove any clumps of herbs but reserve the marinade). Place the steak on a tray and salt liberally on both sides - I used about two teaspoons' worth. Cover and allow the excess water to drain off for 20 minutes and then brush off the extra salt.
Try to remove the herb clumps to encourage more even salting. I left them on but I'd recommend brushing them off.
Step 3 - Heat a bbq or pan to the highest heat possible (if you have one, use a cast iron pan or grill). Add some oil to the pan and fry the steak for 3 minutes maximum on both sides (for medium rare). It is a thin steak so it cooks quickly. Remove from the pan and place on a tray and and add the teaspoon of butter on the top. Tent the tray with foil and allow the steak to rest for 15 minutes.
Step 4 - Meanwhile, take the marinade and heat it gently on low to medium heat in the same pan. It will meld with the pan juices. Cook for 4-5 minutes until cooked through. After the steak has rested, slice the steak against the grain and serve with the marinade sauce.