Two Types Of Skirt Steak
Skirt steak comes in two varieties: outside and inside.
Outside skirt steak is the more desirable skirt steak cut. It’s the cut you should buy if you can find it. Outside skirt steak comes from the diaphragm. It’s said to be the cut of beef that started the fajita craze years ago. It’s got good flavor and tenderness, but can be hard to find because much of it is shipped overseas to consumers willing to pay top dollar for it.
Inside skirt steak comes from the transverse abdominal muscle. It is wider, thinner, and tougher than outside skirt steak.
How To Identify Outside Skirt Steak
Outside skirt steak tends to be longer and narrower than inside skirt steak…sometimes much longer. Here’s an example of a single piece of outside skirt steak. In the meat counter it’s folded neatly into a compact shape but unrolls into something like this:
The problem is that skirt steak is not always identified as “outside” or “inside” at the supermarket. Even the high-end market where I buy skirt steak doesn’t label theirs, as shown here:
So I asked the butcher what they were selling and he said it was outside skirt steak. I asked if I could see the case box label and he produced this:
So not only did I learn that this high-end market is selling real outside skirt steak, but it’s also USDA Choice or higher which makes this a very nice cut of meat.
Don’t be afraid to ask your butcher what he’s selling. If he’s on the up and up, he’ll be happy to produce the case box label.
Preparing Inside Skirt Steak
On this occasion I found a piece of inside skirt steak at a good quality supermarket. Inside skirt steak comes as a single, long piece of meat, though not as long as the outside version shown above.
I cut this skirt into three pieces so it was easier to work with and marinated it in Korean barbecue sauce. If you were making this for fajitas, you’d substitute an appropriate fajita or carne asada marinade.
I grilled the meat at high temp on my Weber Summit 450 gas grill. All skirt steaks benefit from very intense heat, either on the grill or on cast iron. You want a good crust on the exterior and medium doneness. Any more or less done than medium and the meat is tough and chewy.
After cooking, cover loosely with foil and let rest for just a couple of minutes before slicing the meat thin across the grain and on the bias.
Give Skirt Steak A Try!
If you ever see outside skirt steak at the supermarket, give it a try. It’s a real treat! Otherwise, inside skirt steak will do and it makes for a great meal, too!