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Skirt Steaks with Red-Onion Mojo

Skirt Steaks with Red-Onion Mojo

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  • 3 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (from about 2 large bunches)
  • 7 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 6- to 8-ounce skirt steaks
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • Red-Onion Mojo (click for recipe)

Recipe Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.Combine first 9 ingredients in blender. Purée until marinade is almost smooth. Arrange steaks in 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish. Pour marinade over. Cover dish tightly with foil. Roast in oven 1 hour. Remove dish from oven; uncover and let steaks cool in marinade 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate in marinade overnight.

  • Remove steaks from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Pour 1/3 cup oil into each of 2 heavy large skillets; heat over high heat until oil is very hot. Add 4 steaks to each skillet and cook until crisp outside, about 3 minutes per side. Drain briefly on paper towels. Arrange steaks on platter; spoon Red-Onion Mojo over. Garnish with lime slices and serve.

Recipe by Douglas Rodriguez,Photos by Pornchai MittongtareReviews Section

Skirt Steaks with Red-Onion Mojo - Recipes

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I know what you&rsquore thinking. No, sprinkling sugar on your steak will not make it taste like candy or obscure its meat flavor. Instead, it delivers a fleeting moment of sweetness followed by a flood of meaty flavors.

The editors of Cook&rsquos Country first heard about sugar steak on a research trip to Denver back in 2015. They visited Bastien&rsquos Restaurant , a historic family-owned eatery that claims to be the home of the sugar steak. Whether or not that&rsquos true (a little research turned up recipes from New Orleans, Kansas City, and California), the dish has been the signature and customer favorite for decades.

That&rsquos because sugar steak is phenomenal. The coating is actually a combination of salt and sugar. When grilled, the sugar caramelizes and produces the ultimate charred crust, and the salt does its job seasoning the meat. I don&rsquot prepare a lot of red meat but this might be the best steak I&rsquove ever cooked.

To replicate this technique at home, you&rsquoll need to know the right ratio of salt to sugar, as well as some other tips. Watch the video below and check out the recipe for the full instructions. (Not a member? Start a free trial today .)

  • Start with thick steaks. One-inch-thick strip steaks are thick enough to give the crust time to form over the grill without risking overcooking the interior.
  • Use the right ratio of sugar to salt: 4 parts sugar to 3 parts salt creates the delicate crust and clean sweetness without any bitterness.
  • Sprinkle, rest, then sprinkle again. Salt pulls moisture from the meat, which dissolves the sugar. So apply the rub in two steps: First before a one-hour rest at room temperature, and again right before the steak hits the grill. The moisture that&rsquos drawn out during that rest will help the second coat adhere beautifully to the meat.
  • Move the steaks around the grill as they cook. Rotate the steaks once they start to caramelize and swap their positions over the single-level fire. It sounds fussy, but keeping them moving prevents the sugar from burning.

Get more invaluable cooking tips here (new articles are added every day), and start a free trial to access all our rigorously tested, reliable recipes and product reviews.

Skirt Steaks with Red-Onion Mojo - Recipes

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Want to do your future self a favor? Freeze some thick-cut steaks. Then follow these tips to skip the defrosting step and cook them straight from frozen.

In the test kitchen, this idea of cooking frozen steaks came from Cook&rsquos Illustrated Editor in Chief Dan Souza, who conducted an experiment where he compared steaks cooked from frozen with steaks that were defrosted before cooking. The results? Tasters unanimously preferred the cooked-from-frozen steaks to their thawed counterparts. (Check out the full details of his experiment here .)

It made sense: The superchilled interior of the frozen steak was more resistant to overcooking, so once seared on the stovetop and then finished in the oven, the meat cooked up juicy and rosy from edge to edge.

Dan had cooked his steaks inside, but his colleague Andrea Geary wondered if she couldn&rsquot achieve the same impressive results on the grill. If successful, grillers everywhere could have spur-of-the-moment steak whenever they wanted.

Three of the steps for grilled-from-frozen steak perfection

Of course, Andrea succeeded in her mission. (If you know Andrea, you never doubted that she would.) And sure enough, her final technique is a game changer for convenience cooking.

Here are the key steps to her technique. Read more about her recipe development here , and check out the recipe for the full instructions. (Not a member? Start a free trial today .)

Grilled Skirt Steak Fajitas

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Fajitas are one of the most social dinner entrees we know. Everybody sits around the table, assembling steak, vegetables, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and cheese—everything or just a few, selectively—according to preference. Feel free to substitute flank, hanger, or flap for the skirt steak in this recipe.

Game plan: Make a batch of Pico de Gallo salsa before you begin.


  1. 1 To make the marinade, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until combined. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  2. 2 Put the skirt steak in a large zipper-lock plastic bag and add the remaining marinade. Seal and shake the bag to make sure the meat is well coated. Place in a baking dish and refrigerate for 8 hours or up to overnight, turning the bag a few times.
  3. 3 When ready to cook, in a bowl, toss the peppers and onion with the reserved 1/4 cup marinade. Remove the steaks from the marinade, letting the excess marinade drip off, and transfer the steaks to a large plate. Let come to room temperature while you prepare the grill.
  4. 4 Prepare a charcoal grill for medium-high heat. Clean and oil the grill grate.
  5. 5 Put a large cast iron frying pan on the grill and add the onions and peppers. Place the skirt steak on the other side of the grill. Cover the grill and cook, turning the steak occasionally, until nicely seared and cooked to medium-rare (about 115–120°F). Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until tender. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent with foil, and rest.
  6. 6 Thinly slice the steak against the grain, then transfer it to the cast iron frying pan with the peppers and onions. Serve right away with warm tortillas, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, and cheese.


  • Position an oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high.
  • Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and grease the foil with the oil. If necessary, cut the steak crosswise into pieces 8 to 10 inches long. Arrange the steak on the baking sheet in a single layer and season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Put the pecans, butter, honey, rosemary, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a food processor and pulse until well combined and the pecans are finely chopped.
  • Broil the steak until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip it and broil until it’s cooked nearly to your liking, about 3 minutes more for medium rare. Spread the pecan mixture over the steak, patting the mixture with the back of a spoon to help it adhere. Continue broiling until the pecan coating is toasted and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Set the steak aside to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Thinly slice the steak against the grain and transfer to plates. If the pecan coating falls off the steak as you’re slicing it, spoon it over the top.

Recipe Notes

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Perfectly Seasoned Skirt Steak Tacos

One of the favorite and most requested meals in our house is tacos. They’re so easy and I’ve never met a person that didn’t like a taco.

My husband’s favorite tacos are always steak tacos and we probably either eat them or order them once a week.

Since moving to Michigan full time, we are working on finding a taco place that we still love. In the meantime, we are upping our at home taco game.

These skirt steak tacos are quickly becoming the go-to for taco nights and they are the perfect way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Taco Tuesday or even just a regular Friday night.

I’ve been focusing on really making the meat the star of the dish when it comes to tacos. Think about it, you can slap a yummy topping on any meat and kind of call it good.

But when you taste tacos that really have the meat working well with the other components of the dish, the flavors all sing together in your mouth. At least, that’s the experience I have whenever I go to a Mexican restaurant back in Chicago that we adore.

You can serve steak tacos with many toppings, but I decided to serve them with chimichurri, sliced carrots for crunch and honey radishes for a little sweetness. I wanted to add this tajin sour cream sauce too, but I was unfortunately, and unknowingly, out of sour cream. You will want to make this though for something because it’s flavor profile mixed with the chimichurri is something not to be missed!

For these steak tacos, I decided to use skirt steak. You can use flank steak or hanger steak if you want too, but I like skirt steak for many reasons. It’s also the cut of meat most often used in steak fajitas.

Skirt steak has a more beefy and intense meat flavor versus flank steak and it’s a thinner cut of meat, so it cooks faster. If you’re making dinner after work, sometimes all you want is a fast dinner and skirt steak does this nicely.

However, be warned. Skirt steak can be tough if you over cook it. It tends to be lean but can be tougher than flank steak. I never cook it over medium when working with it. Most people say medium rare is best but I’m not a rare-kind-of-girl.

You can make the steak for the steak tacos inside on the stove our outside on the grill. The key is not overcooking it. In either place, I like to set my grill or oven to medium heat and cook it for three minutes per side. Then turn the heat up and cook each side another minute to two minutes for a good sear.

Tip: Before cooking the skirt steak, you will want to marinade it in the marinade below. You should marinade it for at least an hour before cooking. If you don’t have an hour beforehand, do it in the morning before work or even the night before.

Tip: If you can, make the chimichurri the night before. It really needs a bit of time to have all the flavors start working together. If you can’t make it the night before, make it at least a half an hour before you start your meat.

Also, if you have kids, help them to keep it all together with these cute taco holders! We have these and it helps the kids to keep all the stuffings in the shell. They’re dishwasher safe and come a part for easy cleaning.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) flank steak
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 ½ cups tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar, or to taste (Optional)
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Cut flank steak in half across the grain. Mix salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Season both sides generously with the salt mixture.

Heat olive oil in a pot over high heat. Add steaks and cook until outsides are well browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove steaks to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Add red onion, garlic, and more of the salt seasoning. Cook and stir until starting to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in cumin, paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, cloves, and allspice. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Pour in white wine, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in tomato sauce and chicken broth.

Return beef and accumulated juices to the pot. Season with salt and add bay leaves. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until beef is almost fork-tender, not falling apart, about 2 hours.

Remove pot from heat and let stew cool to room temperature, at least 45 minutes. Refrigerate, 8 hours to overnight, for best results.

Remove beef to a plate and set stew over medium heat. Tear beef along the grain into 1/8- to 1/4-inch-wide shreds place back in the stew. Add bell peppers, poblanos, smoked paprika, capers, olives, and sugar. Stir together and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until peppers are soft and meat is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat, remove bay leaves, and stir in cilantro.

Steve Freidkin, the chef at Texaz Grill in Phoenix, shared this technique with us for instantly “marinating” meat. By making small slashes in a diamond pattern over both sides of the steak, the flavors of the lemon and spices sink right in.

This dish requires some multitasking, but the benefits of creating something this delicious in only 30 minutes are well worth the hustle. If you're entertaining friends, take a more leisurely approach and make the dressing, cook the noodles, and clean the herbs ahead then at serving time, just cook the steak and combine the ingredients.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime rind
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder
  • 1 (1-pound) flat iron steak, trimmed
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped peeled seeded cucumber
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped

Combine orange rind, orange juice, lime rind, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon oil, and next 4 ingredients (through chipotle) in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add steak, turning to coat. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature, turning occasionally.

Heat a grill pan over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove steak from marinade discard marinade. Sprinkle steak with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add steak to pan grill 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare or to desired degree of doneness. Place steak on a cutting board let stand 5 minutes. Slice steak across the grain.

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining ingredients in a bowl. Serve with steak.