Meat that has undergone tenderizing by a commercial product is disagreeable, as you may well know if you have had it in restaurants. However, a quick dip in pineapple juice, which contains the powerful tenderizing enzyme papain, can do wonders for a piece of beef. I once had some lightly smoked beef fillet which had been marinated in pineapple juice, but this was rather a pointless exercise given that the cut is naturally tender. But I adapted the idea and sometimes use it for skirt steak.
This is a very flavoursome piece of meat, but it can sometimes be chewy and even tough. The secret is to cook it quickly and serve it rare, since the longer it cooks the tougher it becomes. I think it is best to buy one large thick piece of skirt, and slice it for serving. A ridged cast-iron grill that rests on two rings on the hob is excellent for fast grilling, imitating the appearance, if not the flavour, of the charcoal grill.
Remove any thick membranes from the meat.
Put a layer of onion in a bowl, the meat on top, and another layer of onion on top. Pour over the juice, and scatter on the juniper berries and pepper. Leave for 40 minutes or so, turning the meat once.
Heat the grill, and when it is very hot remove the meat from the marinade, dry it thoroughly, and grill it for 6 to 8 minutes on each side, turning it carefully once. Remove from the grill, and allow to rest in a warm place before carving.
A little sauce can be made by frying the onion in butter until soft, adding the spices, pineapple juice and a little beef stock, and cooking for 20 minutes or so. This is best done before you put the beef under the grill.
Rub the mixture through a sieve for a thick oniony sauce, or simply allow the liquid to strain through for a liquid one.
Steak and chips go wonderfully well together ( for how to make the perfect chip).
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.