Red Wine Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak
When it comes to grilling, steak is the undisputed king. Universally loved by its loyal and carnivorous subjects, steak gives you an almost unlimited amount of options to express your culinary mastery. One of my personal favorites is a red wine marinated skirt steak. This marinade delivers excellent flavor and the steak cooks up quickly so you'll have an amazing meal ready from grill to plate in no time.
So how do you make this dish? How do you prepare such a thin and generally tough cut of steak? How do you prepare the marinade correctly? How long do you marinade it for? How do you know the difference between rare, medium, and well-done without cutting into it? Relax, it's all surprisingly easy with a little attention to detail.
This recipe is portioned for 4-6 people but don't worry if you have extra. You can easily turn the leftovers into anything from a steak salad to a sandwich to a burrito.
What You'll Need For Grilling Skirt Steak
- 2 pounds skirt steak
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/2 small shallot minced - This should equate to roughly 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil - Feel free to use an oil lower in fat such as vegetable oil. However, I strongly recommend olive oil because it adds a richer flavor to the marinade.
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
- 2 pads of butter cut into small pieces (optional)
Step 1: Marinating
To make your marinade, place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed. If you like things a little spicier, go ahead and add the chili powder as well. You may be wondering why you've added mustard to a red wine marinade and the answer is simple. The marinade you're making is a suspension - a mixture of liquid(s) and solid particles that are large enough to sink. The mustard acts as an emulsifier to help blend together the oil and vinegar as well as to keep your spices evenly dispersed. Let the marinade sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to combine before giving it one final round of whisking.
Take your skirt steak and use a sharp knife to score both sides against the grain roughly 1/8 of an inch deep at 1-1/2 inch intervals. This will help create more surface area for your marinade and make it easier to penetrate the meat completely. Place your steaks in a gallon ziplock bag and pour in the marinade. Take about a minute to massage the marinade into the meat, then seal the bag and place in the refrigerator. It's a good idea to place the bag into a bowl to prevent a mess in case it has a leak. Let the steaks marinade for at least 6-8 hours, although I prefer overnight. The longer the marinating time, the more flavor the steaks absorb.
Skirt steak - sometimes known as Hanger steak - actually comes in two different cuts: the outside cut and the inside cut. The inside is the thinner and tougher cut as well as being the cheaper of the two. The outside cut is generally considered the more desirable because it's thicker and has a higher fat content that gives it more flavor. However, outer cuts may be harder to find since the vast majority end up in commercial kitchens. If you can source an outer cut, do so! Just remember these cuts have the membrane still attached which will need to be removed before marinating.
Step 2: Grilling
Prep and preheat your grill for indirect heat. If you've never set up a grill for indirect heat before, don't worry because it's easy. Indirect heat means there is no heat source directly under the food. The coals or gas burners on the outsides of the grill are lit and the food is placed in the center. For this recipe, you will be cooking on direct heat to start so don't put your coals so close to the walls that you can't fit the steaks over them.
While your grill preheats, take the steaks out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. This helps to ensure they will cook evenly. Taking care to save the marinade, remove the steaks and place on direct heat. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side for rare (internal temperature should be 120 degrees F). If you prefer medium rare (130-135 degrees F), place the steaks on indirect heat and close the lid for 2-3 minutes. I don't recommend cooking skirt steak any more than medium rare due to its habit of becoming extremely tough beyond that. Remove your steaks from the grill and let them rest for 5-10 minutes so the juices redistribute evenly. Cut the steaks across the grain and serve.
If you want to check to see how done your steaks are just by touch, there is a popular and usually reliable method I've used since I learned to grill in a Chicago steakhouse. Start by making an "okay" sign by touching your thumb and forefinger together. Now poke the meaty part of your palm at the base of your thumb. That is what a rare steak feels like. Touch your middle finger and thumb for medium rare, ring finger and thumb for medium well, and pinky and thumb for well done. Quick, easy, and accurate most of the time.
Step 3: Sauce (optional)
If you or those you are cooking for like a little extra sauce to dip your steak into, take your saved marinade and pour it into a pot. Add the cubed butter, stir, and bring everything to a boil for 3 minutes before removing from heat. Let the sauce cool, then serve directly over your steaks and enjoy.
So are you ready to get on the grill and make something outstanding? As you've read, the entire process doesn't take very long to produce a deep and richly flavored steak. And if you decide to marinate the meat overnight, half the work is already done when it's time to cook. Hopefully, this recipe will inspire you to try other creative marinades you may not have considered before. Maybe you'll even develop some new ones of your own.
Do you have any tips, ideas, or thoughts you'd like to share with us? Write them in the comments below and pass this recipe along to your friends and family if you enjoyed it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there another name for skirt steak?
Although many people talk about skirt steak and flank steak as similar cuts of beef, they are not the same cut. They are both lean cuts of meat that contain tough muscle fibers and require marination before cooking, but they come from different parts of the cow. Skirt steak is from the diaphragm muscles of the cow, and flank steak is from the loin area.
What are the different types of skirt steak?
There are two cuts of skirt steak - the inside cut and the outside cut. Both are full-flavored and easy to grill, but the outside cut is thicker with a higher fat content. The inside cut is often less expensive because it’s so thin. It’s also a bit tougher than the outer cut, so you may want to marinate it for an extra hour.
How long can you marinate skirt steak?
It’s possible to over-marinate some cuts of meat, but skirt steak is not one of them. Extended marinating time will only work to tenderize the tough muscle fibers of the steak. At minimum, you should marinate a skirt steak for 2 to 3 hours, although it often benefits from an overnight marinade time of 6 to 8 hours.
How long do you cook skirt steak?
Because the skirt steak is so thin - especially if you have an inner cut - it cooks up very quickly over the high-heat of the grill. It should only take about 2 to 4 minutes a side, depending on if you like your steak medium-rare or more on the medium side. For a more well-done steak, you can cook it 5 minutes a side, but be forewarned: since this cut has very little fat, it becomes tough and chewy as it becomes more well-done.
Do you need to let skirt steak rest before cutting it?
You should let any cut of meat rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it. This allows the juices to redistribute within the meat instead of spilling out onto the cutting board. It’s worth the wait, because the steak will be juicier and more tender.