The Steak Chris Santos Says Is 'Criminally' Underrated - Exclusive

So often, steak night is reserved for the heroes of the beef aisle. The thick-cut, marbled ribeyes, the plate-dominating porterhouses, or the tender and luxurious filet mignons tend to steal the show, whether you're dining out at your favorite steakhouse or busting out the grill. However, there's another cut out there that doesn't get nearly as much love among carnivorous home cooks, and some chefs think it's a shame. 

That includes celebrity chef and restaurateur Chris Santos, who says we should be looking beyond the biggest, thickest cuts for an underrated, yet deeply satisfying steak experience. "Skirt steak is criminally [under-appreciated]," Santos told Tasting Table during an exclusive interview. "The tomahawks and New York [strips] and all these other cuts are amazing," he acknowledges, "but skirt steak is delicious ... It's really different, and it's underutilized." 

Santos points to this cut's unique flavor profile and its sturdy texture, and we'd like to add that its versatility in dishes, or as a standalone piece of meat, makes it a steak you should consider.

You're missing out if you don't appreciate the flavor and texture of skirt steak

Skirt steak comes from a cow's plate section, between the stomach and chest. It's a long, flat cut formed from a lot of muscle and connective tissue. This makes skirt steak a tougher, grainier cut compared to fatty ribeyes and t-bones, but Chris Santos calls this a plus. "I love the toothsome texture of skirt steak," he notes. And it's worth pointing out that this quality — along with the fat within the muscle fibers of this cut — allows skirt steak to stand up to grilling while remaining juicy.

Another reason to consider skirt steak is its affordability and utility in the kitchen. "It's not seen as a fancy cut," says Santos, and because of that "it is relatively inexpensive." This is even more enticing considering all the things you can do with a skirt steak. Its meaty flavor and juicy marbling make it a great cut for fajitas or in a stir-fry. Skirt steak's tougher texture means it also takes well to marinades without breaking down.

The most important thing to keep in mind with skirt steak is that its wonderful flavor and texture can be quickly ruined if it is overcooked. It doesn't need long on your grill or skillet — just a few minutes over high heat to char the outside is all you need. "It's so flavorful, especially if you cook it rare or medium rare," says Santos.