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Ingredients

How to Cut Skirt Steak for Maximum Tenderness

There's a right way and a wrong way to slice skirt steak. Learn the method that yields the most tender cut.

Skirt steak is a long ribbon-shaped cut of beef that’s juicy with a rich, beefy flavor. After grilling or pan-searing skirt steak, your intuition might be to slice the beef off the short end (picture slicing coins from a banana).

You’d be slicing the steak wrong. Here’s why.

Do you slice skirt steak with or against the grain?

Always cut skirt steak against the grain. The grains of a skirt steak run crosswise, the short way. When you’re slicing skirt steak off the end, you’re cutting it with the grain. You’re biting into long strands of muscle, meaning it requires more effort to chew. Slicing against the grain, though, shortens the muscles and means you’ll get less chewy and more tender skirt steak.

Just how much more tender does slicing against the grain make skirt steak (and other cuts of meat)? To find out, Cook's Illustrated editor in chief Dan Souza cooked a whole flank steak sous vide to 130 degrees, cut equally thick slices both with and against the grain, and then used a CT3 Texture Analyzer from Brookfield Engineering to test how much force was required to "bite" into the slices.

The results? It matters. A lot. Get the full run-down of the experiment in this video:

The Right Way to Cut Skirt Steak

  1. For the most tender skirt steak, we recommend cooking the beef to a medium doneness (about 145 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Take the long ribbon of skirt steak and first cut it into manageable 4- to 6-inch pieces. Usually, this means dividing the skirt steak into three or four equal rectangular pieces.
  3. Slice the individual rectangular pieces the long way. You can slice straight down or at a diagonal.

Here are a few of America’s Test Kitchen’s favorite skirt steak recipes.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.