If there are three things that every good chef should be able to do, it’s use a sous vide, marinate skirt steak (or any other type of meat), and chop things up correctly. A steak that’s marinated well doesn’t just have better flavor; it becomes more tender and also retains that juiciness that makes everyone drool. Though almost every cut of beef can work well with a marinade, there’s something to be said about the way marinating skirt steaks changes the flavor so beautifully.
To a point, I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that knowing how to marinate a skirt steak is an art. If done correctly, it will change the way you think about this traditionally tough cut of meat. Want to learn how to work it? My guide will have you loving the way your steak tastes next time you prep it.
Why Marinate Skirt Steak?
Skirt steak is a notoriously tough cut of meat that comes from the area that’s close to the cow’s diaphragm. When cooked without a marinade, the toughness of the meat and muscle tissue makes the steak difficult to chew…and lacking in flavor.
Marinades help break down the proteins in your meat, which make the steak tender. The spices and flavors of the marinade also improve the overall flavor profile. In other words, it’s a good thing to do.
Even if you use grass-fed beef and get a prime cut, a marinade will still make a huge difference in the overall quality of your steak.
Putting Together Your Marinade
The first thing you need to do when you want to marinate skirt steaks is to create (or find) a good marinade for your meat. Marinades are typically acidic, using ingredients like lemon, lime, or even coffee, to help tenderize the meat.
Not sure what kind of marinade to use? These quick finds below tend to be popular:
- Chimichurri Sauce. This South American treat is made of cilantro, parsley, vinegar, lemon, and several other ingredients to create a tart herbal taste that works wonderfully with steak. If you’re not up for finding a recipe, that’s okay. Plenty of store-bought options are available for use.
- Yogurt and Ras al Hanout. Fans of African fare will love ras al hanout, also known as “head of the store,” a spice blend featuring some of the most savory herbs you’ll ever taste. When mixed with yogurt, the enzymes in the yogurt help break down the toughness of the meat and lock in juice. That said, I prefer this on chicken but some like it with steak.
- Italian Dressing. It’s fast, it’s simple, and it works well. Don’t ask why, because I don’t know why it’s so darn good. If you need to marinate skirt steak in a pinch, this is a good way to do it.
- Worchestershire Sauce. While I don’t know how to pronounce it, adding this sauce to some cracked pepper can turn a regular steak into a spectacular one.
- Balsamic Vinegar. Many people like to use balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and Worchestershire in a mix to create a good marinade.
- Store-Bought Marinade Sauce. If you have gone to almost any major superstore, you probably have seen at least one aisle entirely devoted to sauces and marinades. Picking almost any bottle that’s labeled as a marinade will work reasonably well for a typical weeknight dinner.
Marinating Your Skirt Steak
Once you’ve chosen a marinade that works with your palate, it’s time to start. Here’s how to marinate skirt steak the right way…
- Grab a glass tray that is large enough for you to lay your steak out flat. You don’t want to have to fold a steak unless it’s absolutely necessary.
- Pour in your marinade. You should make enough (or buy enough) marinade to fill up your glass tray at least an inch deep from the bottom of your tray.
- Place the skirt steak into the tray. Cover the top and bottom of the steak with the marinade.
- Get plastic wrap and cover the tray, then shove it in the freezer. Depending on the marinade you use, you should expect to marinate skirt steak for anywhere from eight to 24 hours. Anything longer than 24 hours is overkill in most cases.
- Remove the steak from the tray, then grill it. Grilling skirt steak is the preferred way to cook it, but if you look around the net, you might find other stovetop-friendly recipes worth trying out.
What Happens If You Over-Marinate Skirt Steak?
Though marinating steak is usually welcome, if you go past the 24-hour mark, you might notice that the steak starts to get tougher. The flavor might also become more sour, rather than steaky, and you may also notice less juiciness.
In other words, you’ll see the definition of “too much of a good thing” in action.
Overall, there’s no reason to complicate things when it comes to prepping your skirt steak. Marinating meat should be seen as a simple, “set and forget” type of process. By just relaxing and setting an overnight marinade, you’re ensuring that dinnertime will be a lot better tomorrow.