One in seven marriages in the United States is between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another.
That was the big news earlier this year when the Pew Research Center released its Social and Demographic Trends Report, a giant, once-a-decade, number-crunching project based on data from the 2010 U.S. Census. Of course anyone who’s shopped for skirt steak already knew this.
All those multicultural households means that more than a third of Americans can claim a family member, by marriage, of a different ethnicity or race. More and more Americans are sharing the cultures, customs, and especially the cuisines of a variety of racial and ethnic traditions. According to the Mintel marketing group, in a given month 63% of American households will have cooked Mexican food, 46% have cooked Chinese, and another 29% are fusion cooks. And a lot of those households seem to be cooking skirt steak.
For years, skirt steak lived in relative obscurity, ignored by America’s traditional home cooks. It’s a humble and homely cut that’s positioned on a cow between the flank and the brisket, and it basically acts like a girdle holding in those other belly parts. It’s coarsely-grained and chewy, but long marinating, quick cooking, and thin slicing reveals its distinctly juicy, decidedly tasty charms.
Until the 1980’s, skirt steak was priced below ground beef, and still butchers couldn’t give it away. Too tough and tendon-y to grind up for hamburger, most skirt steak ended up as dog food.
Then fajitas happened.
And Chinese stir-fries, Japanese negimaki, Korean bulgogi, and Brazilian churrasco. This flavorful, marbled steak proved to be the ideal cut for a multitude of robust, ethnic preparations. Its popularity skyrocketed, fueled by the surging multiculturalism. Today the skirt steak is the second most expensive cut of beef at the wholesale level, with only the tenderloin costing more. It’s worth every penny.
Learn the ins and outs of shopping, prepping, cooking, and serving this (now) all-American cut:
Serious Eats has a skirt steak how-to guide (sponsored by the Texas Beef Council), and you’ll find more recipes and tips at The Art of Manliness.