The word “arrachera” literally means “skirt,” but it actually refers to a type of beef cut known as flank or rump steak.
What Kind Of Meat Is Arrachera?
Arrachera can be found at most supermarkets, including Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, Costco, Walmart, Safeway, Kroger, and many more.
This particular cut of meat is typically sold whole, and its shape resembles the letter “A.” Arrachera comes from the top part of the cow’s rib cage, which contains two bones called the spine and lumbar region.
Most people think of ribs when they hear arrachera mentioned, but this steak has no bones in it whatsoever.
Instead, arrachera has a thin layer of fat on one side, and its texture is similar to flank steak.
Flank steak is also popularly referred to as bottom round, London broil, or New York strip.
When you cook arrachera, it should have a nice brown color and some char marks on the surface—this indicates that your grill was hot enough to sear the meat properly.
The taste of arrachera is sweet and savory at the same time.
If possible, try not to overcook this cut because it will become dry very quickly.
Also, if you are making this meal for kids, make sure to remove all the bones before serving so that younger children won’t choke.
Where Does Arrachera Come From?
Arracheras were originally native to central Mexico where they were used to feed large groups of people.
The original name was “arrachero,” which meant something like “the one who brings food.” As time went on, the phrase evolved into “arrachera,” which basically translates to “skirt steak.”
In the United States, arrachera became popular during the 1930s when Mexican immigrants began taking jobs in the agricultural fields of California.
These workers would often take their lunch breaks at local restaurants to eat arrachera and other home-cooked foods.
Today, arrachera recipes have become quite popular throughout America.
What Are The Traditional Accompaniments For Arrachera?
Arrachera can be served plain on its own as an appetizer or entrée.
In fact, many people prefer this simple preparation because they find it to be more flavorful than most other cuts of meat.
Arrachera also makes a great filling for tacos (see our recipe here) or burritos.
And while I love making arrachera at home, if I have some leftover after eating it, I like to use it in quesadillas.
There are several traditional accompaniments you can serve alongside your arrachera, including beans, rice, tortilla chips, guacamole, salsa, avocado slices, cheese, sour cream, lime wedges, and radishes.
You could even add fresh cilantro leaves or pickled jalapeños for a little extra kick!
How Do You Make Arrachera?
Arrachera is one of Mexico’s most famous dishes.
Although not every region has its own version of this meat, all arracheras share some common characteristics that distinguish them from other cuts.
All arrachera recipes require skirt steak (also called flank steak) which comes from the underside of the steer.
The steaks vary greatly in thickness and shape depending on where they come from, so be sure to follow the specific instructions below.
- Cut the flank steak into 2-inch strips across the grain.
- If using skirt steak, remove the silverskin by rubbing your knife along the inside edge of the steak until you can see the white fat underneath. Then slice off the silverskin.
- Marinate the steak in 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the steak with the mixture.
- Grill over medium heat for 5 minutes per side, flipping once after two minutes, and basting with additional olive oil while cooking.
- Serve with salsa verde and rice.
Traditional accompaniments for arrachera
Although arrachera is delicious on its own, it also makes an excellent complement to many traditional Mexican foods.
Here are just a few examples of how you might enjoy arrachera along with these classic Mexican dishes.
Enchiladas de carne con chile y huitlacoche
These enchiladas contain ground beef seasoned with onion, garlic, tomato sauce, and oregano.
They are topped with shredded cheese and roasted corn kernels before being wrapped with a soft tortilla and placed in a baking pan.
This dish consists of stuffed green peppers filled with ground beef seasoned with onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
These are then rolled up individually and dipped in egg wash to give them a golden brown color before being sauteed in hot oil.
Tortillas al carbon
In addition to serving alongside arrachera, tacos al carbon are often eaten during festivals or religious celebrations such as Christmas, Easter, and Cinco De Mayo.
In fact, many people will place their order at restaurants ahead of time on those days because they know there won’t be enough food to go around otherwise.
They consist of warm flour tortillas that have been fried in lard or vegetable oil.
On top of each tortilla are slices of avocado, lettuce, radishes, jalapeño, pico de gallo, and shredded cabbage.
Each person gets to add their favorite toppings before folding the tortilla closed to form a taco.
Similar to enchiladas, flautas are deep-fried pieces of dough that are usually folded around fillings like beans, chicken, or pork.
After frying, they are served with guacamole and mayonnaise.
This dish consists of scrambled eggs cooked over low heat.
Once the eggs begin to set, chopped ham, bacon, and diced potatoes are added, followed by fresh herbs.
Finally, the whole thing is finished with melted butter and more herbs.
Pollo en su tinte
This dish is similar to migas except that it uses chicken instead of bacon and potatoes.
Instead of herbs, it includes sliced scallions, red bell pepper, and pineapple chunks.
What Is A Popular Arrachera Recipe?
Arrachera recipes vary from region to region depending on the local ingredients available.
The most common arrachera recipe uses skirt steak (also called flank steak).
Skirt steaks are meaty cuts of muscle found along the back side of the animal and are usually sold whole.
They have a great flavor and can be cooked quickly over an open flame like wood coals or charcoal briquettes without drying out.
This particular arrachera recipe calls for skirt steak which has been marinated overnight in a mixture of garlic, onion, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and other delicious seasonings.
After being marinated, the meat is sliced into strips and placed on a grill pan or griddle so that they cook evenly and don’t dry out.
Once done cooking, the arrachera slices are served with fresh salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese.
You may also serve arracheras topped with your favorite toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, cheese, etc.
If you want to try this arrachera recipe at home, keep reading below!
- 1 pound (450 grams) skirt steak
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- ½ cup diced red onion
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch of salt
- ⅛ teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ tablespoon chili powder
To start preparing arrachera, begin by placing all of the above listed ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well blended together.
Next, place skirt steak into a large plastic bag and add the spice blend to the bag.
Make sure that there is enough room inside the bag to allow the steak to fully absorb the flavors from the marinade.
Close up the bag tightly and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Once marinating time is complete, remove the steak from the fridge and discard the liquid in the bottom of the bag.
Using kitchen shears, carefully slice the skirt steak into thin pieces while still wet.
Place each piece onto a clean cutting board and pat them dry with paper towels.
After removing all moisture from the steak, place each strip onto a greased grill pan or griddle.
Cook over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes per side or until desired degree of doneness is reached.
Serve immediately after flipping.
You will find that skirt steak is extremely versatile when it comes to preparation.
Try adding some extra flavor to this arrachera recipe by using different types of seasoning blends.
What Are Some Tips For Making Arrachera?
When preparing this delicious and flavorful meat, make sure your grill is at the proper temperature before cooking.
Arrachera can be prepared on an outdoor grill, stovetop, or oven if you don’t have access to a gas grill.
You will need about 1 pound (450 grams) of flank steak per person to serve four people so plan accordingly.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ¾ cup (180 ml) water
If you use a charcoal grill, place all of the ingredients except the water into a small bowl and stir together until well combined.
If using an electric grill, combine all of the ingredients except the water in a medium saucepan over high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool completely before adding the water.
Once cooled, add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly by hand.
Place the seasoned beef onto a piece of plastic wrap and cover tightly with another layer of plastic wrap.
Use a mallet or rolling pin to flatten out the meat into a thin rectangle shape.
The thinner the better because it cooks faster and more evenly.
Make sure to press down firmly along the edges so they adhere to the plastic wrap.
Wrap the entire package up tight and refrigerate overnight.
Before grilling, remove the meat from the fridge and allow it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Place the wrapped beef on a hot grill surface and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes per side depending on how rare/well done you want your arrachera to be.
After removing it from the grill, season with additional salt and black pepper to taste.
How Do You Know When Arrachera Is Cooked?
Arrachera is usually served medium-rare (about 145 degrees F) because the meat becomes tough if overcooked.
The best way to determine doneness is by using an instant read thermometer.
When the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees F, the arrachera should be removed from the grill.
Other ways to check for doneness
- Insert a knife into the center of the steak. If there is no resistance, then the beef has reached its desired degree of doneness. Make sure not to remove the knife until this test is complete.
- Place a piece of aluminum foil on your cutting board and place the steak on top of it. Cover the steak with another layer of foil. Place the pan over high heat and allow the steam to escape through the edges of the foil. Remove the pan from the heat after 5 minutes and carefully lift up the foil. Check to see if the steak is ready to serve. You can also use a food press or similar device to compress the steak before checking for doneness.
What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make When Cooking Arrachera?
There are many ways to cook arrachera, so there are bound to be plenty of different recipes out there.
However, most arracheras have one thing in common – they don’t use enough spice!
To get the best result from your arrachera, try something like this instead which uses a little bit of chili powder and cumin along with other spices.
You could also add fresh herbs such as thyme or oregano if you want to change things up.
If you’re looking for an easy way to learn how to grill meat without being intimidated by all the tips and tricks, check out these simple grilling pointers.
When you first start cooking arrachera at home, it might seem intimidating since the meat has lots of bones in it.
Don’t worry though because you won’t need to remove them when you’re done cooking.
Instead, just leave them inside the steak and give the sauce a chance to soak into them while you finish cooking everything else.
How Can You Make Arrachera More Interesting?
Arrachera is one of the most popular types of meat in Mexico because it has a unique flavor profile that makes it stand out from other cuts of meat.
For this reason, arrachera is often used on its own or combined with other ingredients like beans, rice, vegetables, fruit, cheese, etc.
Arrachera is usually served at room temperature (about 70 degrees Fahrenheit), which makes it great for making tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, or other dishes where you want your food to be warm rather than hot.
The best way to enjoy arrachera is by eating it straight off the grill so that all of the juices remain intact.
If you don’t have access to an outdoor grill, there’s no need to fret! You can cook arrachera indoors using a panini press, instant pot, slow cooker, oven, stovetop burner, or even a microwave.
In addition to being delicious, arrachera is also very affordable.
In fact, you could easily feed four people for less than $10 per person if you buy enough to last them for several days.
What Are Some Creative Ways To Serve Arrachera?
Arrachera recipes vary widely depending on the region where they originate from.
For example, arrachera tacos are a popular street food item in Mexico City, while arrachera quesadillas are served at fiestas (Mexican festivals) throughout the country.
In this arrachera recipe, we will be making an authentic version of the dish using skirt steak which is one of the most common cuts used when preparing arrachera.
This particular cut comes from the bottom part of the cow’s leg along with other muscles like sirloin, top round, and chuck eye roast.
- 1 pound skirt steak
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup onion, diced small
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Cilantro, chopped fine
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup white onion diced
- 10 cloves garlic minced
- 4 serrano peppers diced
- 1 teaspoon salt separated
- 1 orange Juice
- 1 lemon Juice
- 1 lime Juice
- 1/3 cup cilantro chopped
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon chile ancho powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- 10 ounces Mexican beer
- In a small casserole dish, arrange the steak in a single layer. Sprinkle some sazon, adobo seasoning, and lime juice. Add some sliced onion pieces on top. Layers should be repeated until the entire steak is seasoned. Over the mixture, pour the beer. For at least an hour and up to 24 hours, cover and chill.
- Set the grill to medium-high heat.
- Eliminate marinade. For medium-doneness, grill the steak for 6 to 7 minutes on each side, until the exterior is gently browned but the inside is still slightly tender.