We were going to make Friday night Taco Night, but then realized that Alex had his gymnastics class, so it had to wait for Saturday’s lunch. Glad we waited, the extra time in the marinade was good… Sorry, no pictures this time. It’s still good. Go make this.
So, tacos. Brown up some ground beef, toss in that seasoning packet you bought in the supermarket with some water, wait, and then stuff a sort-of-not-too-nasty hard shell with meat, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, & the kitchen sink, take a bite and need to change your shirt. Right? You couldn’t be more wrong. That’s a terribly over-Americanized version of the taco, humble street food of Latin America. We will not be doing that today.
Buy 1 ½ lbs of skirt steak. You can use flank too if you’ve got that on hand, or can’t find skirt. I’ve got a butcher down the road from us, and they rule. Hi Jeff & Terry. While I was there, I ordered up a brisket to be BBQ’d and ready for us to consume during an upcoming gathering of friends & family. Yum in advance.
Prepare your steak. Sometimes, skirt will still have a membrane on it. Get rid of as much of it as you can. While you’re at it, trim the skirt a bit too. Leave some fat on there – fat will melt and is flavor. But, you probably aren’t interested in having a giant hunk of fat hanging around either.. Now might also be a good time to cut it into manageable lengths to fit your grill, since you’re getting all knifey with the steak already.
Make yourself a marinade. The only thing you may have trouble with is the chile powders. In your average American supermarket, you can get “chili powder”, and it’s a hodgepodge of stuff that’s not just ground up chiles. Get thee to thine nearest Mexican grocery for some ancho and chipotle chile powders. Here comes the marinade. Throw all this stuff in the nearest bowl and mix it up with a whisk until it’s all combined.
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Done whisking? Put the skirt steak in a sealable plastic bag. Dump the marinade in on top of the steak. Remove as much air as you can from the bag and seal it up. Smoosh it all around in there a bit to coat the steak with all that chile-infused goodness. Don’t freak out – this isn’t spicy. Yes, you’ve got a fair bit of chile powder in there, but when you’re done cooking, it’s going to be nicely spiced, and not hot & overpowering. Trust me here. Even if you’re not into spicy, put all of that stuff in there. How long do you marinade for? That’s up to you. Some people like to go an hour, but I ended up going for about 18. I put this all together at about 6pm Friday, and cooked it up a bit before Noon on Saturday. Some marinades overpower when you go that long, but this one did not. If you’re doing a short marinade, do it outside the fridge. I did mine in the fridge. Either way, for about an hour before you’re cooking, get that thing out of the cold. Don’t worry, you won’t die. You’re about to put this steak above 500+F heat. That will slay anything that manages to grow in an hour.
Go and make a fire in your usual way. You want to setup your grill for direct grilling with high heat. Skirt likes to cook fast, so you want to hit it with a thermonuclear blast of heat for a short time.
Got your grill all prepped, cleaned, oiled and up to about 500-600F? You’re ready. Pull the steak out of the marinade and unroll it onto a baking sheet or something big & flat. After you get the steak on, hand this to someone to wash and bring back to you, or have a second one ready for the cooked meat. For my grill, I got it up to 600F and then did 2.5 minutes on each side before pulling it. At 500F, it’s probably more like 3. If you’re Alton Brown or just love his methods, well, just do what he does. Not having charcoal (I know, sacrilege, right? It’s ok, I’ve got a smoker try built into our Weber gas grill), I just keep it all up top on the grates.
Done cooking? Now it’s rest time for that meat, so that carry-over will finish the job, leaving you with nicely cooked beef. How do you cut skirt so it’s tender and not all stringy/chewy? Against the grain, so the fibers are nice & short. Basically, cut the steak into smaller pieces, then cut it sideways. Go watch the AB video above if you think I’m speaking Latin right now. He shows it very nicely. I did 3-inch sections that I sliced into 4 pieces each. That’s a good size for tacos.
While that meat is resting, warm up your tortillas. Soft tacos for this guy, please. Corn or flour, whatever you like. Some people warm up tortillas by wrapping them in plastic and nuking them for a bit. I don’t like this method, as it leaves you with gummy, funky tortillas. You’ve already got a nice hot grill, and you’re kind of standing around while the steak rests, so throw the tortillas on the grill a few at a time. Watch until they just start to puff up, flip, and then stack on a plate. You can do easily a dozen tortillas in the time your steak rests.
And now, assemble as you wish. For me, it was a tortilla, 2-3 pieces of steak, some cheese and a bit of hot salsa or a couple of squirts of Tabasco’s Chipotle Sauce. Want to chop up some cilantro or dice up a few tomatoes and add them? Go for it. Perhaps a little pico de gallo instead? Have at it, but don’t overload the taco there, bub.
We served this with some rice and corn as the side dishes. It was fantastic.