Skirt steaks come from two different muscles and are sometimes labeled as inside skirt steak or outside skirt steak. The more desirable outside skirt steak measures 3 to 4 inches wide and 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Avoid the inside skirt steak, which typically measures 5 to 7 inches wide and 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, as it is very chewy. Skirt steak is most tender when cooked to medium (130 to 135 degrees). Thin steaks cook very quickly, so we recommend using an instant-read thermometer for a quick and accurate measurement.

To make the most of this steak’s ample surface area, we submerged it in a citrusy, garlicky mojo marinade. Soy sauce in the marinade seasoned the meat, and its glutamates enhanced the meat’s beefiness. We rubbed a thin coating of baking soda over the steaks before grilling them over high heat to guarantee great browning. To emphasize the mojo flavor, we boiled the marinade to make it food-safe and turned it into a sauce that we drizzled over the steaks.

Ingredients

  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 1/4 cup juice  (2 limes)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest plus 1/2 cup juice (2 oranges)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut with grain into 6- to 8-inch steaks
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

1. Combine garlic, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons lime juice, cumin, oregano, ¾ teaspoon salt, orange juice, and pepper flakes in 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Place steaks in dish. Flip steaks to coat both sides with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, flipping steaks halfway through refrigerating.

2. Remove steaks from marinade and transfer marinade to small saucepan. Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Combine 1 tablespoon oil and baking soda in small bowl. Rub oil mixture evenly onto both sides of each steak.

3. Bring marinade to boil over high heat and boil for 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl and stir in lime zest, orange zest, remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Set aside sauce.

4A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: About 25 minutes before grilling, open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

4B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn off 1 burner (if using grill with more than 2 burners, turn off burner farthest from primary burner) and leave other burner(s) on high.

5. Clean and oil cooking grate. Cook steaks on hotter side of grill until well browned and meat registers 130 to 135 degrees (for medium), 2 to 4 minutes per side. (Move steaks to cooler side of grill before taking temperature to prevent them from overcooking.) Transfer steaks to cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut steaks on bias against grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices on serving platter, drizzle with 2 tablespoons sauce, and serve, passing extra sauce separately.

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Note: How you slice steak matters almost as much as how you cook it. Steak benefits from being sliced across the grain, which shortens its muscle fibers, making the meat more tender and easier to chew. Tough, thin cuts such as skirt, hanger, and flank steak should be sliced at an angle. This shows off a large cross section of the interior for more elegant presentation.

  • 1. Hold knife perpendicular to grain of meat. Tilt spine of knife toward you.
  • 2. Using sawing motion and applying slight downward pressure, slice meat thin.

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