Tag Archives: skirt steak

Mexican-Style Grilled Steak with Red Chile Salsa

To create a recipe for a carne asada platter that satisfies like the original, Cook’s Illustrated started with skirt steak. Alas, our supermarket was not carrying skirt steak at the time, but had some nice flank steaks, so that’s what we went with. Adapt and prosper, right?

Here, a dry salting promotes faster browning on the grill. Afterward you give the steak a squeeze of fresh lime before serving for an added dimension of flavor. To speed up charring even more and create a large enough area of concentrated heat to cook all four steaks at once, Cook’s Illustrated cut the bottom from a disposable aluminum roasting pan and used it to corral the coals. Not us. We didn’t even pound down the meat to a 1/4″. Just gas-grilled them after refrigeration and got a beautiful medium-rare after 4-5 minutes on each side to reach 130°.

Mexican-Style Grilled Steak

For heady garlic flavor, treat the cooked steaks like bruschetta, rubbing their rough crusts with a smashed garlic clove. And don’t forget to make the smoky, earthy guajillo Red Chile Salsa—it’s the perfect accompaniment to the steak. If you can’t locate the guajillos at your grocery store or specialty ethnic market, they are easily ordered online.

In addition, we made Simple Refried Beans from a can of pinto beans, chopped onion and garlic. Even though the instructions indicate to start with a nonstick skillet, we didn’t because the potato masher could mar the surface of the pan.

Mexican-Style Grilled Steak (Carne Asada)

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp. ground cumin
  • (2-lb.) skirt steak, trimmed, pounded 1/4 inch thick and cut with grain into 4 equal steaks
  • (13″ x 9″) disposable aluminum roasting pan (if using charcoal)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • Lime wedges


  1. Combine salt and cumin in small bowl. Sprinkle salt mixture evenly over both sides of steaks. Transfer steaks to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 45 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, if using charcoal, use kitchen shears to remove bottom of disposable pan and discard, reserving pan collar.
  3. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, place disposable pan collar in center of grill over bottom vent and pour coals into even layer in collar. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
    FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.
  4. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place steaks on grill (if using charcoal, arrange steaks over coals in collar) and cook, uncovered, until well browned on first side, 2 to 4 minutes.
  5. Flip steaks and continue to cook until well browned on second side and meat registers 130 degrees, 2 to 4 minutes longer.
  6. Transfer steaks to carving board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Rub garlic thoroughly over 1 side of steaks. Slice steaks against grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices and serve with lime wedges.


Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Red Chile Salsa

Fire-roasted tomatoes are the secret ingredient in this salsa. They add smoky depth without adding extra work. Dried guajillo chiles are toasted and ground for rich, deep flavor. Vinegar and spices round out the mixture for a salsa that is smoky, spicy, and slightly tart.

A guajillo chile (in Spanish, meaning big pod) is the second-most commonly used dried chili in Mexican cuisine after poblanos (ancho). There are two main varieties that are distinguished by their size and heat factors. The guajillo puya is the smaller and hotter of the two. In contrast, the longer and wider guajillo has a more pronounced, richer flavor and is somewhat less spicy, which is what we used here.

Red Chile Salsa

  • Servings: makes 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 ¼ oz. dried guajillo chiles, wiped clean
  • (14.5-oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • ½ tsp. distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • ⅛ tsp. pepper
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch ground cumin


  1. Toast guajillos in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until softened and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
  2. Transfer to large plate and, when cool enough to handle, remove stems and seeds.
  3. Place guajillos in blender and process until finely ground, 60 to 90 seconds, scraping down sides of blender jar as needed.
  4. Add tomatoes and their juice, water, salt, garlic, vinegar, oregano, pepper, clove, and cumin to blender and process until very smooth, 60 to 90 seconds, scraping down sides of blender jar as needed. (Salsa can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)


Simple Refried Beans

A couple of slices of bacon fat gives the beans meaty depth. Onions and garlic provide savory notes, while the rich canning liquid from pinto beans helps to create a silky texture and a rich flavor. Mash the beans with a potato masher for a partly smooth, partly chunky texture.


  • bacon, 2 slices
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 15-oz. can pinto beans (do not drain)
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Heat bacon in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, 7 to 10 minutes, flipping bacon halfway through. Remove bacon and reserve for another use (or eat as a snack while finishing dinner 😉 ).
  2. Increase heat to medium, add onion to fat in skillet, and cook until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add beans and their liquid and water and bring to simmer. Cook, mashing beans with potato masher, until mixture is mostly smooth, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Season with salt to taste, and serve.



Salsa and beans recipes are both from Cook’s Illustrated

Flank Steak with Salsa Verde Salad

This summery dinner salad is perfect for the dog days of August. While the list of ingredients may seem a bit lengthy, the salsa verde made with scallions, mint, cilantro (or parsley), capers and garlic becomes the marinade for both the steak and the dressing for the greens. A win-win in my book. If you’re following a low-carb diet, this baby is for you.

This meal was one of our Cape Cod vacation dinners for the two of us. (So yes, we had leftovers, yeah!) The NYTimes recipe originally called for skirt steak, but the local grocery store wasn’t carrying any—instead they had some beautiful flank steaks, a perfect substitute.

We also took it upon ourselves to grill the romaine quarters, even though the original recipe didn’t include this step. Slightly charring the romaine, which was brushed all over with olive oil, added an inviting addition to the flavor profile. And what the heck, the grill was still hot and the meat had to rest, after all…

And because when you are in vacation mode and need to adapt without fuss, we used cilantro in place of parsley, because, well, that’s what we had on hand and didn’t feel like making an extra trip to the supermarket. Some folks can’t stomach cilantro, so parsley is your best alternative. We happen to love the herb.

Flank Steak with Salsa Verde Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for romaine
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 romaine hearts
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese


  1. If necessary, cut the steak crosswise into large pieces that will fit into a shallow, nonreactive dish such as glass. Transfer steak(s) to dish.
  2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, scallions, capers, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pour about 1/3 of dressing over the steak and turn to coat both sides.
  3. Add the cilantro (or parsley) and 1 tablespoon mint to the reserved dressing, stir, and set aside until ready to use. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3o minutes and up to 24 hours. (If marinating overnight, cover and refrigerate the reserved dressing.)
  4. In a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast the pine nuts, tossing often, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Set the grill to medium-high heat. Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and grill 3 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare, 125°. Check with an instant read thermometer.
  6. Transfer tp a plate, sprinkle with salt, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, cut the romaine hearts into quarters. Brush all over with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Grill for a total of 5 minutes, turning once to char both sides lightly.
  8. Arrange romaine in one layer on a large platter, leaving room in the middle for the steaks.
  9. Slice the steak into 3″ pieces, then slice against the grain to cut the steak into wide strips. Place in center of platter pouring any accumulated juices over the meat.
  10. Sprinkle feta, pine nuts and remaining 1 tablespoon of mint over the romaine.
  11. Arrange the sliced steak on the platter, drizzle with reserved dressing over steak and lettuce. Serve immediately.


Adapted from a recipe by Lidey Heuck from the NYTimes