Very Humbling

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I read a great thread in the Chef's forum, where one of Chef's advised a beginner chef to buy the book "Bouchon" by Thomas Keller and to cook one dish a night until it was perfected, when the beginner was able to cook the entire book, they would have "upped" their skills. Sounded like sage advise, so I bought the book, handed it to my wife and told her to start my adventure. She picked skirt steak with caramlized shallots and red wine Jus, "Bavette A La Bordelaise".

Not surprisingly, I found out that I have a long way to go, to "up" my skills!!!!!

Understand my shortcomings, but I can't imagine how you can cook a skirt steak a total of three minutes in a skillet and then five minutes the oven and have it come out tender? Skirt is simply too tough of a cut of meat to have it be anything but "tender"cooking it this quick. 

I'm thinking that maybe my pallet isn't up to my expectations of Bistro cooking,. Certainly understand that my skills are very lacking, but the basic timeframe for cooking such a low cut of meat to be tender in such a short timeframe, has got me wondering.

If you reply it is soley me, I understand. But am I wrong in my belief on the cut of meat not lending itself to being tender by cooking it in this manner?

Appreciate the comments, not sure what she'll pick for tomorrow night........

Thanks, tcollins

PS: By no means has my lack of success thwarted my adventure, not sure what it will be tomorrow night, she's picking again!!!!
 

phatch

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Cut thinly across the grain after resting, it should be great.

This cut is too lean to get tender through long slow low temp methods. It's best left somewhat rare and cooked quickly, rested and cut thinly.

It's not tender in the commonly understood sense. But the thin slices across the grain break up what would otherwise be chewy and tough. And as a heavily worked muscle, it has deeper flavor and more of it than a New York or Filet cut.
 
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Thanks, that makes sense. Maybe I was mislead by the picture which accompanied the recipe. It showed the steak with the browned/glazed shallot's on top, probably two to three inches thick. It may be that cutting it in this manner may have eliminated the toughness that cutting in a normal steak manner.

I'll try this again, gave the wife the book again to pick, we'll see what I'm cooking tomorrow night when I get home!!!!
 
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I agree w/ everything phatch said. I would add using a tool like this, a tenderizer. 



You can put a zillion or so tiny little cuts into the meat thus making it a lot more tender. NO, I would not use it on a piece of strip as in the pic though. For cuts like skirt however, it works like a charm. I think the one in the pic is going for +/- $15 usd. I use it all the time on thin cut inside top round that we cook up for steak sammys. We run the slices through a screaming hot jus for about 10 seconds and it's fall-apart tender. 
 
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I agree w/ everything phatch said. I would add using a tool like this, a tenderizer. 



You can put a zillion or so tiny little cuts into the meat thus making it a lot more tender. NO, I would not use it on a piece of strip as in the pic though. For cuts like skirt however, it works like a charm. I think the one in the pic is going for +/- $15 usd. I use it all the time on thin cut inside top round that we cook up for steak sammys. We run the slices through a screaming hot jus for about 10 seconds and it's fall-apart tender. 
I am not a fan of those Jaccard style tenderizers. They almost guarantee dry meat.

I agree with cooking the skirt steak to barely rare and allow to rest. Then cut thin slices across the grain. It comes out amazing that way.

I borrowed the Bouchon/French Laundry books from a friend awhile back. The Bouchon recipes are definitely more doable for the home cook. Keller's simple roast chicken finished with thyme butter is out of this world.
 
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Skirt and Flanks will not get tough if cooked quick and then finished in hot oven Like Phatch says cut thin across the grain and please rare or med rare only.

For better cuts you don't need a Jac. Even on lesser quality cuts I prefer a  Papain  dip over  punching holes.
 
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 am not a fan of those Jaccard style tenderizers. They almost guarantee dry meat.

Have to disagree with that, Bishop.

I can't speak for skirt steak, but I juse my Jaccard on flank steak all the time, and have yet to have one dry out. And II've watched Morimoto use one on a chicken---and doubt strongly that his meat dried out.

The thing to remember is that all those tiny holes let heat penetrate deeper, faster. Which, in turn, affects the cooking time. I'd suggest that if your getting dry meat it's because you're overcooking it. Try racheting back a bit from your usual cooking time and see what happens.

Speaking of Jaccards, I suspect the patent ran out recently. Used to be there was only the one available (in various configurations). Starting about two years ago several other brands suddenly started appearing, including some cheaply made ones. So, while there are more inexpensive versions available, I stick to the original myself. As daddy used to say, never be afraid to buy the best---you won't be disappointed.
 
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I think it depends on the thickness of your steak.  You mentioned that the picture in the book showed a rather thick steak.  I didn't know that skirt came in different thicknesses however if that's the case then the thickness affects the cooking time.  I've had nothing but success with skirt steak cooking it at high and quick temps.  Judging from our trip to France it is also the most widely used cut for steak there.  It's so flavorful and can also be used with success in fajitas and stir fries.  Don't give up on this cut, try again and keep a few things in mind:

-First, make sure the meat is completely dry before you sear it in the pan.  I like to keep it nestled between paper towels for a few minutes before I'm ready to cook it.  This dryness is what gives it a great color and sear.

-make sure your pan is heated up slowly and for a long time.  It has to be very hot.  Do not use nonstick.

- no recipe is flawless. Just because the recipe is exact about how long you should keep it in the oven doesn't mean you should follow that to a T.  All ovens are different, and all cuts of meat are different.  Check the meat frequently for doneness by using the touch method described in this video. 


Knowing my oven and the skirt steaks I find in the stores here I would see no need to place it in the oven as they are too thin and would be overcooked.  I would simply leave that step out, no offense to the cookbook author but he doesn't know my cooking machines here.
 
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In a home setting when only 1 flank involved I agree you don't need oven. But when you have a luncheon for 60 and you need 15 flanks you need the oven.
 
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I agree with Koukouv' comments to skip the oven step for a home cooking situation. A typical skirt steak only need 1 or 2 mn per side in a high heat skillet, then a 5mn resting period. That's for medium-rare. If you like it medium, turn down the heat after the initial 2mn per side, and cook another 1 or 2mn per side at a lower heat, then rest 5mn.

Then slice against the grain.

It should taste fabulous and be tender enough, although it does have some texture to it unlike say, a filet mignon.
Judging from our trip to France it is also the most widely used cut for steak there.
Definitely a very popular cut in France, especially in bistros, and especially for lunch. Typically served with a shallot red wine pan sauce. Unfortunately in the U.S. we don't have the same cuts as in France, so it's hard to find certain specific cuts like "bavette d'aloyau", or "bavette de flanchet" or "hampe", or "onglet", etc....
 
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 am not a fan of those Jaccard style tenderizers. They almost guarantee dry meat.

Have to disagree with that, Bishop.

I can't speak for skirt steak, but I juse my Jaccard on flank steak all the time, and have yet to have one dry out. And II've watched Morimoto use one on a chicken---and doubt strongly that his meat dried out.

The thing to remember is that all those tiny holes let heat penetrate deeper, faster. Which, in turn, affects the cooking time. I'd suggest that if your getting dry meat it's because you're overcooking it. Try racheting back a bit from your usual cooking time and see what happens.

Speaking of Jaccards, I suspect the patent ran out recently. Used to be there was only the one available (in various configurations). Starting about two years ago several other brands suddenly started appearing, including some cheaply made ones. So, while there are more inexpensive versions available, I stick to the original myself. As daddy used to say, never be afraid to buy the best---you won't be disappointed.
I like to think of all those little holes as places for all natural juices and fat to leak out. Now if you cook a perforated piece of meat in lots of fat, then it will have some juice. I just think that if the same two cuts of meat were cooked to the same internal temp, the mechanically tenderized one would be drier. My 2 cents, take it as you will.
 
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I agree with Koukouv' comments to skip the oven step for a home cooking situation. A typical skirt steak only need 1 or 2 mn per side in a high heat skillet, then a 5mn resting period. That's for medium-rare. If you like it medium, turn down the heat after the initial 2mn per side, and cook another 1 or 2mn per side at a lower heat, then rest 5mn.

Then slice against the grain.

It should taste fabulous and be tender enough, although it does have some texture to it unlike say, a filet mignon.
Thanks for this procedure. I didn't realize cooking it like this. I would try this.
 
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Unfortunately in the U.S. we don't have the same cuts as in France, so it's hard to find certain specific cuts like "bavette d'aloyau", or "bavette de flanchet" or "hampe", or "onglet", etc....
I just picked up 57#s of the stuff here just outside of Chicago. It's called "hanging tender" or "hanger steak". $2.09 / lb. for 50#s or more. 

 
 

kuan

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Unfortunately in the U.S. we don't have the same cuts as in France, so it's hard to find certain specific cuts like "bavette d'aloyau", or "bavette de flanchet" or "hampe", or "onglet", etc....
I just picked up 57#s of the stuff here just outside of Chicago. It's called "hanging tender" or "hanger steak". $2.09 / lb. for 50#s or more. 

 
Where? Caputo's or something?
 
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Restaurant Depot.

edit: Maybe I should qualify things just a bit. The hanger steak I pick up is stock grade, untrimmed, whole bulk. It's sometimes a crap-shoot on what you're getting because you really can't tell until you trim it out. Now trimming is completely subjective to what standards you are using for acceptance and/or what you consider needs to be trimmed out and what you may want to keep still. I'll explain this in more detail if anyone cares. LOL. 

Also, what you see in that pic is an absolutely fantastic piece trimmed out better then I've ever seen. (And it's not even finished. LOL.)
 
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Appreciate all the suggestions!

I will be doing trying this recipe again. I'm using "post it notes" on the recipe page with all of the suggestions I've received, so when it is time to cook this again, I'll be able to incorporate them. Thanks!!
 
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Appreciate all the suggestions!

I will be doing trying this recipe again. I'm using "post it notes" on the recipe page with all of the suggestions I've received, so when it is time to cook this again, I'll be able to incorporate them. Thanks!!

 I always do this in my recipe notebook.  Everytime I make a dish I add little notes that help me do it better like "a bit more lemon juice next time."  Doing things over again is the only way to learn anything.
 
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Keller buys very good meat, the sort you can't get from a super, Costco or most regular butchers for that matter.  If you want to cook like Keller, you're going to have to buy very good meat too.  In fact, you have to buy very good everything.  Shopping is going to take time, effort and money.

Keller is fanatic about about technique down to the last scintilla as well as ingredient quality.  For that type of cooking those two things are far more important than recipes. 

In terms of technique, if he wanted you to jaccard he would have said so.  I'm not arguing for or against jaccarding -- that's up to you -- merely observing that if you want to cook like Keller you should start by cooking like Keller and being very judicious about mixing in advice from other sources.  Cooking like Keller is not the same thing as learning to be an all-round good cook.  There is both considerably more and considerably less involved.

It starts by refusing to make short cuts, and by emphasizing quality rather than masking defects.  The best way to conceptually approach Keller's basic style is to think in terms of buying great ingredients and cooking well enough so as not to screw them up. 

And yes:  Skirt steak should be cooked mid-rare at most; and must be sliced across the grain -- and preferably on the bias as well.  Both of those things fit in with "not screwing it up."

BDL
 
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Remember while most restaurants and food facilities constantly worry about food cost. Keller does'nt . He does not  have to . His price structure is such that no matter what he makes money and rightfully so. Like BDL says if you want to achieve the best, buy the best,  prepare the best  and serve the best. There are people who will pay for this.
 
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The problems presented here, namely the quality of meats available to the everyday consumer and the cooking time, are exactly why I have such problems with restaurant chefs and the cookbooks they write.

I doubt very much that Keller tested his recipes in an ordinary home kitchen with ingredients bought in an ordinary grocery store located somewhere in the mid-west.

Restaurant cooktops and their connecting gas lines are usually capable of greater sustained temps and BTU gas delivery than a home kitchen-thus, the timing of cooking such dishes can vary greatly. 

Ingredient quality is self explanatory. 

The ordinary consumer should realize there is a very big difference between running a restaurant kitchen and cooking in the home kitchen. Most chef's cookbooks are marketing tools most useful as promotional materials for their brick and mortar enterprises. 

When chefs and cookbook writers develop a cookbook with the ordinary home cook in mind, and test the recipe with ordinary appliances, tools and raw materials, the result is something a lot more useful. That's why Julia Child's and Jacques Pepin's books are such classics. 
 

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