If you ask a chef what his or her favorite steak is, chances are the answer will be rich, beefy skirt steak.
Skirt steak is often associated with Tex-Mex tacos and fajitas, but I grill it year ‘round and pair it with everything. It is prized for its flavor, but must be cut against the grain of the meat or it is hard to chew. Many people marinate the skirt steak, but I like to grill it over a medium high heat, about 550 degrees, seasoned with nothing but olive oil and kosher salt so that I taste all of the natural beef flavor.
Each cow has two skirts steaks — the inside and the outside, which is the most flavorful. Most grocery stores simply label their skirt steak, “skirt” but if you can find a butcher who offers both, be sure to ask for the outside skirt.
This recipe is a nod to skirt steak’s humble roots. The simple tomato and corn salsa cuts the richness of the beef and adds a freshness to the dish. The beer-braised black beans are coarsely mashed with onion and garlic and doused with fresh lime juice just before serving. And the tortillas are optional.
You can use whatever tomato you like for the salsa. If it is a regular tomato, cut into a small dice. If you have small cherry tomatoes, cut them in quarters. The shucked corn is brushed with oil and seasoned simply with salt and placed on the grill to char and blister. Once the corn is marked, it is cut of the cob and added to the tomatoes to make a salsa that really doubles as a side.
You can grill the steak and the corn together and assemble the salsa while the meat is resting. Make the beans before you start the salsa and the steak or the steak will get cold while the beans finish cooking.
GRILLED SKIRT STEAK, BEER-BRAISED BLACK BEANS AND BLISTERED CORN AND TOMATO SALSA
Grilling Method: Direct/Medium-High Heat
Start to finish: About one hour
Beer-Braised Black Beans
Blistered Corn and Tomato Salsa
Outside skirt steak (About 1 pound)
Beer-Braised Black Beans:
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 15-ounces cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 12-ounce Mexican or domestic beer
Juice of one lime
Zest of one lime
Chopped fresh cilantro to taste, about 2 tablespoons
Blistered Corn and Tomato Salsa:
2 large ripe garden tomato, chopped, or pint grape or cherry tomatoes, washed and cut into quarters
2 ears of corn, shucked and blistered on the grill
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
Juice of one lime
About 45 minutes before you want to eat, heat about two tablespoons oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions and cumin. Saute until onions begin to brown. Add beans and beer to sauteed vegetables and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Coarsely mash beans with the back of a fork. Continue simmering until thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Keep warm while you grill the meat and make the salsa. Just before serving, season to taste with lime juice, salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Sprinkle with lime zest and cilantro. Serve with the skirt steak and salsa (see below).
Preheat grill with all burners on high and reduce heat to a medium-high direct heat.
Brush corn with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place corn directly on the cooking grates and grill for 3-4 minutes. Turn corn occasionally to roast and blister all sides. Remove from grill to a clean platter.
When the corn is cool enough to handle, remove the corn from the cob by standing the cob on end and running a sharp knife down the cob to remove the kernels.
Wash and chop the tomatoes into halves or quarters, depending on the size, making sure to reserve all juices. Put tomatoes and juices into a large glass bowl and set aside. Cut blistered corn and add it to the tomatoes, add lime juice a little at a time, tasting and adding until you think the balance of the tomato juice with the lime is right_basically it should taste good without too much of a citrus flavor. Season with salt, stir and toss in the chopped cilantro. Let sit covered_out of the refrigerator until ready to serve. Do not make too far in advance or you will lose the flavors of the fresh cut tomatoes.
Brush steak with olive oil and season steak with about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt just before placing on the grill.
Place meat directly on the cooking grates and grill for 3-4 minutes. Turn steak once halfway through the cooking time. Grill a total of 6-8 minutes for medium rare meat. Remove from grill to a clean platter and let rest for 5-7 minutes before carving across the grain. Serve with the braised black beans and the salsa.