Carne Asada Tacos

The Carne Asada Taco is a simple and savory dish that is perfect for summer grilling season. The centerpiece of the Carne Asada Taco is flank steak or skirt steak, either of which is extremely flavorful. Flank steak is easier to find than skirt steak. The main difference between the two cuts of meat is that the skirt steak is thinner and tenderer. With proper marination, grilling technique, and cross-grain carving flank steak can be tenderized to a similar tenderness.

My favorite marinade is a combination of vegetables, a touch of soy sauce (as odd as that might sound for a Mexican dish), a touch of red wine vinegar, hot sauce and tequila. The flank steak can be marinated for a little as two or three hours but I get even better results by marinating overnight. The meat is tenderized by the acidity of the marinade.

The flank steak is best when grilled to medium-rare to medium. If the steak is too rare or overly well-done it will be slightly tougher but no less delicious. To grill to optimum meat temperature, use a grill on high (500F +), direct heat to sear the meat on both sides then reduce the heat to about 350F to cook to an internal temperature of about 145F. The searing process should leave a light char on the meat and it seals in the juices.

When and how the steak is carved is also critical to a successful outcome. After the steak is removed from the grill it must stand loosely covered with foil for between five and ten minutes before carving. This standing time allows the juices within the steak to redistribute themselves within the steak. When the steak is eventually carved use a technique where you cut across the grain and on a slight bias to yield slices of between 1/16″ and 1/8″. Using a very sharp carving knife will yield the best results.

Ample Bites serves the Cane Asada Taco in a whole-grain tortilla with pickled red onions (see earlier post for recipe), guacamole (see earlier post for recipe), cilantro, cheese, chopped tomatoes, sour cream and a couple of dashes hot sauce but the range of condiments and toppings is unlimited.

Carne Asada for Tacos or Burritos

Serves 6 – 8

1 1 ½ – 2 pound flank steak
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup tequila
1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 bunch green onions, green and white parts finely chopped
1 handful cilantro, coarsely chopped or hand shredded
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil and the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Immerse and cover the flank steak in the mixture. Refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours or overnight.

Prior to grilling remove the flank steak from the marinade. Discard the marinade mixture. Pat the flank steak dry and bring the meat up to room temperature. Immediately before grilling, use the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil to coat both sides of the meat and then season both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat the grill to high (500F +).

Oil the grill grates and then sear one side of the meat for 2-3 minutes. Flip over and sear for another 2-3 minutes. Reduce the grill heat to medium (350F). Cook for 3-4 minutes, flip over one last time and cook until the meat reaches desired – medium-rare to medium (about 145F) is recommended.

Remove from the grill and cover loosely with foil. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before carving. Carve cross-grain and on a bias to between 1/16” and 1/8” and serve immediately.

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