sous vide skirt

Sous Vide Skirt Steak (bavette d’aloyau), 3 Applications

About Trimming Fat

Many chefs remove all the fat from this cut, and, as you can see, it is plainly visible. In this case, the processor had already “peeled” a pleural membrane that is attached to the inside of the cut. The rest of the fat is leafy, and melts readily, so we did not remove it. If desired, excess fat can be removed after sous vide processing, which is first done @

127F/53Cx24 hours.

This temperature/duration converts collagen to gelatin, but very very slowly. The end result is delicious and wholesome, and has what is colloquially referred to as “bite.” This term is a polite word for tender enough for most younger diners, but somewhat less so for older ones.

Model #1–Pan Seared Skirt Steak, Buttered Biscuit, B2 Express

After processing, the steak is removed from the bag, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Sear in a preheated 450F/232C saute pan for just long enough to create a caramel colored surface. The steak should not be in the pan for more than a minute or two, unless you want it more well done than the one pictured below.

Thematically very simple, this model was served with a buttered biscuit and B2 steak sauce.

Model #2–Pan Broiled Skirt Steak, Poached Egg, Purgecue Emulsion

Again, for this model, we did not remove the fat from the raw skirt steak. Even so, it is no longer visible on the meat, which we processed @

127F/53Cx48 hours.

This seems like an overly extensive period of time to some chefs, but I can tell you that the resulting texture really is fork tender. At the same time, there is still enough “bite” to satisfy the steak-knife-toting carnivores among of us.

After processing, the skirt steak is cold shocked in ice water to 70F/21C, and then refrigerated at 40F/4C overnight. On the day of service, it is lightly sprinkled with flour, coated with just enough beaten egg white to conceal the flour and moisten the surface. Then it is dredged in the rub outlined in the ingredients.

On an adjacent burner, heat 1 quart/1 liter water with 1/2 cup/125ml white vinegar.

Heat the Pan

This recipe calls for the use of a cast iron broiler pan with grates. These are fairly common, but a regular saute pan can be substituted, and a direct heat BBQ with grates is excellent. Again, make sure all the contact surfaces are extremely hot–at least 450F/232C . As pictured, the steak should smoke when it comes in contact with the heated surface–adequate ventilation is highly recommended.At such a high temperature, the cold steak will become “mouth hot” after 3-4 minutes on each side. This steak is not thick, so I usually tell people to “treat it as raw.” In other words, it takes the same amount of time to heat as it would to cook if you had never processed it sous vide. The end result will, however, be entirely different.

Poaching the egg

Set the steak aside on a cutting board. Eggs can be “poached” sous vide, but I still prefer the simple old fashioned method. “Poached Eggs” is actually a misnomer. For best results, the water should boil, and never stop. If this is done, a soft center poached egg will take 3.5 minutes. If you don’t have a timer, it is still easy to tell:

Once the water boils, stir it with a circular motion to make the water flow over the bottom of the pan. Add the egg, make sure it is fully submerged. Because of the acidity of the vinegar, the albumen egg white will coagulate almost immediately, enclosing and protecting the yolk. A few strands of the egg white will slowly stream around the egg, like those pinwheel galaxies you see in the astronomy shows. Avoid touching or stirring so as not to break the egg. After 3 minutes, you will be able to nudge the egg with a slotted spoon, and you will notice a firmness about it. Once the egg looks like it could be removed with a slotted spoon, it probably could be! Turn off the heat and take the pan off the burner. The egg can sit there for several minutes without overcooking.

Plating

Cut the skirt steak into strips, and arrange in a pinwheel/nest shape, so the egg can be laid in the middle. Before plating the egg, drizzle the steak with the Purgecue emulsion described above. I like to drizzle with a little balsamic syrup, as well. Strictly a matter of taste! Lay the egg on top, and sprinkle with a little bit of the rub–that’s what I did!

From the side…From the top…

Cut open the egg?This is a timed, 3.5 minute egg in boiling water with vinegar. As long as the water is actually boiling, it is precisely 212F/100C (at sea level), so increasing the heat will not make the egg cook faster. It may make it fly apart though.

Model #3–Cold Seared Skirt Steak, Bruncheon Style.

Again, for this model, we did not remove the fat from the raw skirt steak. It is faintly visible on the meat after processing @

127F/53Cx48 hours.

After processing, the skirt steak is cold shocked in ice water to 70F/21C, and then refrigerated at 40F/4C overnight. Remove the skirt steak from the bag, and pat dry with a clean towel. If there is fat plainly visible, trim it off. Scorch the steak lightly with a torch, not enough to heat it, just enough to slightly sweat and darken the surface. This is not a difficult presentation–it is very simple, but a little precision makes a big difference. I put some Dijon mustard on a teak board. A clean white plate would be fine too! Some cherries, they’re in season here, and a little pesto. A few drops of your favorite bottled salad dressing serves well to add a little splash!

I heated a half biscuit in the frying pan and stood it up, with a pat of butter next to it. And, of course, a lemon. A few grains of the rub mixed with Himalayan Pink Salt, and you get the down town look!

Norm

 

Info

This is beef "inside" skirt. It is also called "Bavette," but even the French have more than one steak called "Bavette."

We demonstrated three different models, all processed @127F/53C, but using two different intervals to be explained.

Skirt steak is usually described as "packed with flavor," a euphemism for juicy but tough. We can tolerate some chewiness in skirt, hanger, flat iron, and flank steaks. We lower the tenderness bar, feeling ashamed that we were not able to pull the trigger on the really expensive stuff. We endeavor to slice them thinner and thinner, in hopes of minimizing the SENSATION of toughness. Haste and dull knives frequently intervene.

Chefs have done a good job popularizing the cuts, again, slicing as thin as possible, offering novel presentations and vivid descriptions. As the popularity of these cuts grew, so did the price. Like beef short ribs, what were once value cuts command premium pricing in the butcher's case and in restaurants. Of course, the overall toughness remains.

Skirt steak has a thick, visible, almost cord-like grain, even more so than the equally popular Tri-tip. It seems to practically SCREAM chewiness. Thankfully sous vide can overcome the toughness of any cut. Even the skirt's grain loses its verve. The only question is how much detectable moisture is present? Skirt steak is not especially moist. I do find it to be more so than filet and New York steaks, despite diners' typical descriptions. It was really good, though. Judge for yourself!

Ingredients

Beef Skirt Steak, 2.2 lb./1Kg

Model #1:

Biscuits. You can use your own, or you can use my recipe HERE (stop before you make the biscuit béchamel)

B2 sauce, or your favorite steak sauce.

Model #2

Skirt steak (see above)
Egg white, one ea.
Whole egg, one ea.

Express Rub-combine all ingredients
Kosher salt, 1/2 cup/120ml
Ground Black Pepper, 1Tbsp/15ml.

Paprika, 1 Tblsp/15ml.
Sugar, 1 Tblsp/15ml.
Oregano, 1 Tblsp/15ml.
Fennel, 1 Tblsp/15ml.
Coriander, 1 Tblsp/15ml.
Allspice, 1 Tblsp/15ml.
Ginger, 1 Tblsp/15ml.

Purgecue Emulsion:
Your favorite steak sauce may also be substituted!

Otherwise, combine and heat to 183F/84Cx1 hour.

Clarified sous-jus from the pouch, 1 cup/225ml.
Ketchup, 1/4 cup/60ml.
Sugar, 1 oz./30ml.
Tamarind paste , 1 oz. OR Worcestershire sauce, 2 0z.
White Vinegar, 1 oz./30ml.
S+P or a pinch of the rub.
Butter, 2 oz./60g.
Process in blender.

Model #3

Skirt Steak (see above).
Cherries, or available fresh fruit.
Mustard, Dijon or your preference.
Extra Virgin Oil Blended with fresh available herbs–I used Chervil, but Parsley, Tarragon, even Cilantro!

 

 

 

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