Muscle Name: Transversus Abdominus
Other names: Outside Skirt, Costillar, Arracherra Regular, Diaphragm, Bifteck de hampe, Faja, Romanian tenderloin, Philadelphia steak
Cooking Style: Marinate this sucker and grill it quick. More than 5 minutes over high heat and you’ve overcooked it
I want to tell a story. Actually I don’t because it’s embarrassing, but I’ve been day drinking dark ’n stormies, and the rum, it compels me. When I first started out in the world of whole animal butchery, I was working for a Belgian dude with an organic, pasture based livestock operation in upstate New York. I would break animals all week, and then head to the Union Square Greenmarket to hawk our wares in one of the premier farmers markets in the country. One day a well known NYC chef contacted us (I’m not about to say who, but you’ve heard of him), asking if we could provide him with skirt steak, which at the time was a cut that we didn’t usually fabricate. I was mostly left to my own devices in the shop, so it fell to me to identify the cut and fill the order. Maybe you can see where this is going.
The point there is not to demonstrate my fallibility, because at this point I have none, but really to show just how far this humble cut has come in just a matter of years. Once relegated to the grind bin, only to be seen in it’s whole form in shady taquerias in the furthest reaches of Queens, the humble skirt steak is at the epicenter of a “cool cuts of beef’ renaissance. Food bloggers ventured out into those far flung carnicerias and brought back tales of the wonderful cut being sold like hotcakes. Of course, all of this attention has its downsides. Chief among which is the fact that a single steer only posses 2 skirt steaks weighing in at a total of 3 pounds max. At our shop the waiting list for skirt steak can top 3 weeks. Not bad for a cut that, until recently, was ground into hamburger without any additional thought.
Mojito Marinade (adapted from Epicurious)
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons cup good white rum
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Combine, and marinate skirt steak overnight. Bring to room temp before cooking and DON’T overcook it. Serve with more rum.