We have it pretty good these days when it comes to selecting meat. All you have to do is head to the meat counter and pick up a pack of whatever looks good when you're at the grocery store. It's important to know a little background about where each cut of meat comes from on the animal, though, because it makes a big difference to how you decide to cook it. Take skirt steak, for example. You might already know that this wide, thin steak is the go-to for making carne asada because it can absorb the tasty marinade or seasoning rub before it's quickly seared over high heat and sliced for serving. What you might not know is that skirt steak is actually two different muscles, which together make up the cow's diaphragm.
Typically, when you buy skirt steak at the grocery store, it'll be labeled as simply "skirt steak." It might also be labeled as "inside skirt" and "outside skirt," however, depending on where exactly in the diaphragm the meat came from.
Read more: The 13 Best Steaks For Grilling
Where Does Skirt Steak Come From?
If you've ever looked at a beef chart at your local butcher or meat counter, you'll notice that it doesn't list the actual cuts of meat, just the big sections of the animal. These large areas of the animal are called "primals." Within the primals are all the individual cuts we recognize, including skirt steak. This system makes it easier for the butcher to buy large quantities of meat to break down into every cut of steak you see for sale.
Skirt steak comes from the "plate" primal of a cow, which is located on the bottom/chest of the animal, right behind the front legs. The diaphragm, as you may have guessed, is what the animal uses to breathe: There is a muscle on the inside of the diaphragm to move air one way and a muscle on the outside to do the opposite. "Outside skirt" is just what it sounds like: The muscle on the outside of the diaphragm. Conversely, "inside skirt" is the meat on the inside of the diaphragm. Both types of skirt steak can be used interchangeably and have a deep, rich flavor, although they are not exactly alike.
Inside And Outside Skirt Steak
The outside skirt is a little more tender and contains less connective tissue, so it's in higher demand than inside skirt and more expensive. As such, almost all outside skirt steak is sold to wholesalers and cooked in restaurants, while inside skirt is usually what you'll find at your local butcher counter. Tenderness isn't the only difference between inside and outside skirt steak, either: The outside skirt is usually thicker and more of a uniform size; the inside skirt is thinner and tends to be a little more irregularly shaped.
Both steaks should be cooked in the same way, however: Over a high, intense heat. The goal is to get a hard sear on the outside while leaving the inside medium rare to medium. You also can't help but notice the thick, vertical fibers of skirt steak that run the length of the steak. This is important when it comes time to slice it. Whether you're cooking an inside skirt for your homemade fajitas or ordering up an outside skirt at a restaurant, be sure to slice thin pieces against the grain, which will give your bites the perfect texture that's not too chewy.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.