Ok, I give up; the red wine pickle brine has won! Inspired by Mr. Fitz’s hanger steak and the beet pickle brine that was tossed down the sink, I purchased skirt steak at the butchers.
Then I got curious about the difference between skirt steak and hanger steak, were they the same? I thought so, but I was wrong. A little searching turned up the answer. There are four cuts which are very similar in looks but come from different places on the cow; the skirt, flatiron, hanger, and flank steaks. Isn’t the Internet amazing? You can find out anything with just a few clicks. Following is a quick map of where you will those various steaks:
Skirt steak, it turns out, is actually the cow’s diaphragm muscle, it’s chewy but tender if cooked quickly and left quite rare. It has quite a lot of marbling and is very flavorful. It’s a long and narrow piece of meat, as much as a few feet in length. It takes well to marinades or dry rubs. It’s one of my favorite cuts and has been discovered in recent years. At my butchers it was more expensive per pound than a T-bone steak!
Flank steak comes from the belly area near a cow’s back legs. It’s much leaner than the skirt steak and takes well to marinades and grilling. Flank should be sliced against the grain for serving.
Hanger steak comes from deep inside the loin, encircled by the rib cake. It’s relatively tender compared to skirt and flank steaks (and more expensive since there is only one per cow). The French call this cut an onglet; it’s frequently seen on menus in bistros accompanied by pomme frites.
A flatiron steak comes from the front shoulder of the cow; it’s sometimes called a top blade or petite tender.
I’d recommend cooking all of them to rare to medium rare.
This post should probably be titled “Skirt steak marinated in red wine pickle brine with chimichurri sauce”, but that’s a bit of a mouthful! Chimichurri sauce is a green herb sauce originally from Argentina; there it’s commonly paired with steak.
Red wine and vinegar marinade
- 2 cups of red wine vinegar
- 1 cup of red wine
- ½ cup of water
- ¼ cup of honey
- 1/3 cup of packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons of black peppercorns
- 16 sprigs of fresh thyme (8 for heating with marinade)
- 8 sprigs of fresh rosemary (4 for heating with marinade)
- Combine the red wine vinegar, red wine, water, honey, brown sugar, salt, peppercorns, 8 sprigs of fresh thyme, and 4 sprigs of rosemary in a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and allow the herbs to infuse the marinade as it cools.
- Once cool remove the thyme and rosemary.
- Pour the marinade over the steaks, adding the other fresh herbs.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight would be ok.
- Pat dry before grilling (we used the BBQ) or cooking on a stove top grill. Since a single steak will vary in thickness you will have a range of “rareness”. We cooked on fairly high heat for 3 minutes a side.
- 1 cup of fresh parsley leaves, stalks removed
- ¼ cup of fresh oregano
- ¼ cup of fresh mint
- 3-5 cloves of garlic
- 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of shallots
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon of chili flakes (less if you do not want spicy)
- ¾ cup of olive oil
- Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Process until finely chopped by turning off and on, scrape down the sides as needed.
- With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until an emulsion is formed. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- Pour into a container and refrigerate. This will keep for 3 days in the fridge.
I served this with an adaptation of the spiced cauliflower “couscous” recipe from Giramuk’s Kitchen. It was a big hit!