How To Ensure Your Skirt Steak Doesn't Turn Out Chewy

If you're an enthusiastic carnivore, then there's no doubt that you break out your steak knives and slice into a perfectly cooked piece of beef with some frequency. Steak is truly the epitome of meat-eating, its big, beefy flavor — which is often complemented by the smokiness of a hot grill — seeming to evoke some kind of primal nostalgia for mankind's early days of cooking meat over a crackling fire.

If you love steak, then you know that there's a huge variety of cuts out there for you to enjoy, from tender filet mignons to well-marbled ribeyes to bone-in T-bones. But have you ever asked your butcher for skirt steak? If not, you really should, according to Vinny Dotolo, co-owner of the meat-centric Los Angeles restaurant Animal. "I love skirt steak because it's just fatty enough, and it cooks quickly, which is great for dinner parties," he told Food & Wine. But if you plan to pick up some of this beef cut from just below the rib of the cow (via MasterClass), then you're going to want to make sure you know how to prepare and cook it to best avoid any chewiness.

Skirt steak needs a nice soak and a quick sear

Even if you've never purchased skirt steak before, you've more than likely eaten it: According to MasterClass, this thin, long cut of beef made up of many muscle fibers is the cut most commonly used to make steak fajitas. Full of beefy flavor thanks to a hearty amount of fat, skirt steak is a great cut to prepare at home — but it does tend toward chewiness, thanks to those muscle fibers.

So how do you avoid chewiness in skirt steak? First, ask your butcher for "outside skirt," the outer part of the meat that is more tender than the inside part of the cut, according to MasterClass. And second, make sure to marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes before cooking, the outlet advises, which will help soften those tough muscle fibers — especially if you choose a brightly acidic marinade featuring vinegar or citrus juice (via Taste of Home).

You're going to want to cook skirt steak appropriately as well. Skirt takes well to a short sear over high heat, according to Simply Recipes, and isn't very forgiving once overcooked. The outlet advises searing either in a pan or on a grill for just a few minutes per side, ensuring the meat doesn't go past medium-rare once it's rested. Finally, make sure to cut your skirt steak against the grain, which cuts through (as opposed to alongside) those long muscle fibers and makes them easier to chew.