You know those friends who you see and then say, “we should get together!”? And then you repeat that a few times before it actually happens? We finally made it happen, and the six of us sat down to a Cuban Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce last weekend at our house. It’s 6 ingredients, uncomplicated, and really delicious—a winning recipe for a low key dinner party.
In my head, the “dinner party” used to mean 5-course meals and spectacular table settings. Truthfully, it became about impressing my friends. And thankfully, I’ve wised up. I’m determined to prove (to myself) that dinner parties do not mean a stressful, hours-long standing-over-a-hot-stove event. They can be casual and even fun to prepare, and they don’t need to include delivery pizza or grilling out hot dogs/burgers. Though I wouldn’t blame you if you did either of those, because they’re both in my repertoire of last-minute menus. 🙂
I wanted a fun, flavorful menu for this dinner party, so I set to work thinking of easy ideas. My husband jogged my memory toward a dinner we shared in Florida this winter at Havana, a Cuban restaurant in West Palm Beach. It was recommended by my friend Christen, who grew up there. Her recommendation did not disappoint. We left stuffed from fried sweet plantains, Cuban beans & rice, and Bistec Especial Havana—their grilled skirt steak topped with a flavorful chimichurri.
I replicated the flavors and played with the ingredients to create my own Cuban Inspired Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce. It takes all of 20 minutes to prep and cook. And it’s only 6 ingredients, including olive oil and salt!
Skirt steak is one of my favorite steaks to grill. It’s a thin cut that’s packed with flavor, and it cooks in minutes. I found it at my local grocery store for $9/lb. I estimate about 8 oz of skirt steak per person, so that’s $4.50 per person on steak. The rest of the meal was low-cost (rice, beans, plantains, salad), so the all-in cost was about $6–$7/person. Not too bad for serving steak!
The steak is topped with chimichurri sauce, which is popular in Argentina and Uruguay, though apparently it was adopted in Cuban cuisine. And for good reason! It adds even more flavor—a hint of garlic and lots of fresh herbal notes from the parsley.
The Chimichurri Sauce recipe calls for four cloves of raw garlic that don’t get cooked. To avoid breath that’ll scare away vampires, I take the edge off the garlic by letting it sit in red wine vinegar for 5 minutes. The sharpness of the garlic diminishes nicely thanks to the acid, and you’re left with garlic flavor instead of the oftentimes harsh flavor of raw garlic. This technique works well with recipes that call for raw onions or shallots, too!
I served the Cuban Inspired Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce with my take on Cuban black beans and rice, fried plantains, and what I call Church Lady Salad.
My guests know to be prepared for dinner table conversation starters, so I asked them this one: “If you could pass along any family tradition, what would it be?”. We heard stories of mariachi birthday songs in Mexico and a Korean new year’s tradition that involved kids getting a chunk of cash from their elders. And mine? It would be that our family get-togethers and holidays would include open invitations to friends or acquaintances, perhaps people who are far from home or without family of their own to celebrate with. My parents’ table was always open to unexpected guests, and they’ve hosted many guests at our family dinners over the years. I hope to continue the tradition.
Cuban Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
- 3 lbs skirt steak
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ¾ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1¾ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- Preheat a grill over medium high heat.
- Sprinkle the skirt steak on both sides with 1½ teaspoons kosher salt.
- Combine the garlic and red wine vinegar in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes to mellow the flavors of the garlic.
- Add the parsley, olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine.
- Grill the skirt steak for 2–3 minutes per side for medium, or until cooked to your liking.
- Remove and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Slice the steak on a bias against the grain.
- Transfer to a serving platter and top with half of the chimichurri sauce. Serve with the remaining chimichurri sauce.