Monday, March 23, 2015

FINALLY! CARNE ASADA!



My husband and I have been trying to perfect this Carne Asada recipe every weekend for two months.  We didn't mind the trials, though, since they were all pretty good.  But this one...this is the one!  We both agreed that it is restaurant quality.  It has the perfect marinade and the perfect charred/caramelized crust.  

There is a little science behind the marinade.  Skirt steak can be a little chewy if it isn't handled right.  We marinated it overnight for about 24 hours to get as much flavor in it as we could.  The juice from the limes and orange helps to break down the fibrous meat.  The soy sauce is a trick used by many restaurants to add flavor to meat.  Don't worry.  It doesn't taste like soy sauce.  The sugar and the baking soda help the meat to brown and caramelize.  And the cornstarch also helps to tenderize the meat.  The result is a very tender, juicy steak.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

CARNE ASADA
1 1/2 to 2 lb skirt steak
1 orange
2 limes
1/2 C beer
1/2 C soy sauce
1/2 C olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1/2 onion, rough chopped
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
2 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed and rough chopped
1 T cumin
1/2 T salt (we used 1 T and it wasn't too salty)
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 C brown sugar (we thought 1/4 made it a little too sweet)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
A few drops of Liquid Smoke

FOR SERVING:
Corn or flour tortillas
Cotija cheese (or your favorite)
Lime wedges
Pico de gallo or salsa
Sour cream
Guacamole

In at least a 9 x 13 casserole pan, you will add the marinade ingredients.  First, halve the orange and squeeze the juice of the orange into the pan and go ahead and throw the rind in the pan too.  Do the same with the limes.  Add in the remaining ingredients except for the steak and whisk. Remove any surface fat from the meat and pull off as much of the white membrane as you can.  Next score the meat by cutting shallow cuts into the meat one way and then turn the meat and cut shallow cuts diagonally into the meat the other way so that you sort of have a diamond pattern.  (I forgot to take pictures, but you can Google how to score meat in a diamond pattern to get an idea.) 

Next you will want to take a stainless steel meat tenderizer (or use a fork) and pierce the meat all over.  I know a lot of people think that's a big no-no.  We are trying to get the marinade deep into the meat, and it also helps to soften up the fibrous connective tissue.  Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, up to 24 hours.

You will want to set the steak out on the counter for at least an hour to bring it to room temperature before cooking.  Pat the steak dry before putting it on the grill.  When you are ready to cook the skirt steak, heat your grill up to high heat. You will want to sear the steak over direct heat for 4-6 minutes per side or until you get that deep charred/carmelized surface.  

If you want to keep cooking the steak to well done in the center, move the steak over indirect heat to finish up the interior.  We use a touch test for our desired doneness, but if you aren't comfortable with that, use a meat thermometer to judge the doneness.  Remove the steak from the grill and cover with foil.  Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before slicing against the grain, which means against the lines of the steak and not with the lines.  Serve the steak in tortillas with cheese, salsa or pico de gallo, a squeeze of lime juice, and guacamole, if desired.

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