Buffalo (or Beef) Skirt Steak

This is an adaptation of a marinate useful for either bison or beef — the original recipe, which comes from Wild Idea Buffalo, was for fajitas using either skirt or flank steak.  I opted just to make the marinate (with the meat and some vegetables, of course).

Skirt Steak in marinate with veggies

I’ve adapted the recipe — it’s not the original but the main thing that remains that I might not have thought about is the tomatillos in the marinate.

I bought Dan OBrien’s book, Buffalo for the Broken Heart, a couple or so years back.

I re-read this book last summer.  Definitely a book both well-written and with a topical topic (bringing buffalo instead of ill-adapted cattle to a large livestock farm in Montana). There’s humor, there’s a lack of arrogance, there’s style and foresight.  Finally, I decided to order something from his company, Wild Idea Buffalo.  My first order was last summer, and it arrived two days before Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene took out my power.  (I was able to save the order.)

My second order arrived a few days ago.  Maybe I’ll do this twice a year?

The fanciest thing I ordered this time was the skirt steak (I also have ribs and sausage).  It came with the fajita recipe, which I’ve modified to just serve with veggies on the side.

The meat

Here we go:

MEAT & MARINATE

1 lb skirt steak (I divided into separate portions because I don’t want to eat the whole pound at once, and I also don’t want to cook good meat that needs to be rare/medium rare all at once.  But I figure it can all marinate together.)
2-3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tomatillos, cubed — remove the paperlike covering
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/8 teaspoon salt.  More if you are a salt addict.
1/2 teaspoon adobo seasoning.  Mine was Penzeys’ for which the ingredient list is:  Onion, garlic, tellicherry black pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin and cayenne pepper, in that order.
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper (McCormick makes a nice ground one).
Juice from two limes.
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil.
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (Optional, but I really wish my supermarket had some this week…)

Run everything above through your food processor – well NOT the meat.  Reserve that on the side, thawed.  Put the meat in some container — a sturdy plastic bag or something. Pour in the marinate.  Mash it into the meat with your fingers, and refrigerate overnight.

We're in the bag

Okay, come the day of cooking to eat this…

Get your veggies ready and chopped.

Veggies at the ready

I used (vary your milage with what is at hand and seems appropriate):

1 mild Anaheim pepper.  Seeds removed.  Chopped
a few bits of a really hot Anaheim pepper that I’m glad I tasted before throwing the rest in.  I eliminated most of this one.  Seeds removed.  Chopped.
4 ounces, more or less, of asparagus, broken up
2-3 ounces mushrooms.
1/4 mid/large onion, chopped 
About a third of a large fennel bulb, roughly chopped.

Okay, that’s all ready.  Get a skillet with just a tiny dash of olive oil up to medium heat.  About level 7 on an electric range.  Yeah, I know, all the pros cook with gas, but this house came with electric.  I’ve figured out how to adapt.  And save money by not converting.  By the way, bell peppers are absolutely fine instead of Anaheim’s, too.  The main thing is, even if you love rock-your-socks-off serranos or halabaneros, you don’t want to lose the flavor of Real meat.  My goal was to get a really mild but recognizable heat without distorting the dish.  TASTE your peppers before incorporating, if in any sort of doubt.

Toss in whatever you are going to use of your skirt steak — as noted, I wasn’t going to eat the whole pound myself in one meal.  Whatever marinate clings to it goes in as well, but the rest gets reserved.

Ready, go, sizzle!

The meat should sizzle when you throw it on the skillet. (For the sake of the above photo, the skillet wasn’t yet heated, but the steak was removed and this was rectified prior to actual cooking.)  For one inch, the recommendation is to cook 2 minutes a side.  This piece was about 1.5 inches thick, so I cooked it about 3.5 minutes a side (yes, you get a different number if you do the math, but I figure it’s harder for the heat to get in there, the thicker your meat gets.  My results were still rare to medium rare, and hot all the way through — all great by me.)

By the way, pastured beef or bison is going to cook differently than the factory-farmed cognates.  Shorter cooking times work best.  You definitely don’t want to over cook a steak.  There’s a lot less fat to be forgiving of over-cooking.

When it’s done, pull off the meat, and let it rest.  Saute your pre-cut veggies in a little more oil, adding 3-4 tablespoons of leftover marinate.  Mix them around.

With the selected veggies, this shouldn’t take long.  You can slice your skirt steak (I took a lot of photos of an un-sliced steak that simply looked like a brick on a plate, not depicted).  Slice against the grain.  This will leave the meat more tender.

Sliced.

Then, when the veggies are to your liking, scoop them all up and add them to the sliced skirt steak.  Serve hot.

(Save your second half pound of skirt steak for another great meal — OR, better yet, have company that night and do it all at once.  Yes, best option yet!)

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2 Responses to Buffalo (or Beef) Skirt Steak

  1. The use of spices in this is just simply mouth watering. I must say that I have been meaning to get me some bison and I’m gonna do it!
    I love the lean meat here and the flavors are just stellar!
    chow :) Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  2. I have just discovered that lime is an awesome marinate base for pastured beef flank steak, too. I used a somewhat simpler recipe (no tomatillos or adobo, and I didn’t marinate with oil in the mix, though I used it in the skillet). Lime and beef/buffalo — who’d have thought?? Although I suspect the Mexicans have been doing this for decades, centuries.

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