A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Carne Asada

I loved steak as a kid. Pink, pink steak cut into tiny cubes. And chocolate mousse for dessert. No restaurant meal since has made such an impression on me.

Then I spent 13 years as a vegetarian.

When I first started eating meat again about four years ago, I tried all different kinds of beef, from grilled filet mignon to prime rib to pot roast, but it wasn't until I bought a flank steak and grilled it that I tasted anything like the steak of my childhood. I find that I prefer flank steak and top round London broil to the more tender, fancy cuts. And homemade carne asada may now be my favorite beef dish ever.

James Peyton's recipe is a little too complicated, but the idea is right. You marinate one to two pounds of flank steak in the fridge for 48 hours, then pat it dry and grill it over really high heat. The usual rules apply: tent it with foil for 10 minutes or so after it comes off the grill; slice it thinly across the grain; serve it with Mexican food the first night; eat it cold on sandwiches or plain with your hands for the next several days.

Here's a much simpler version of Peyton's marinade (and better -- his is complicated in weird ways, like using both red and white wine AND both red and white wine vinegar). Use a food processor.

6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup onion
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
5 fresh sage leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 cup red wine
3 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup tomato juice (or some other unseasoned canned tomato product. Well, not tomato paste, but something.)
1/3 cup olive oil


1 comment:

Kris said...

I've had beef only a few times in the last couple of years. Usually it's a lunch salad in a restaurant: greens topped with sliced rare tenderloin in some combination with blue cheese and a vinaigrette dressing. The best of these salads had a garnish of crispy miniature french fries.

We have flank steak about once a year and I agree it's the best beef for people of our sort--fringe beef-eaters. I guess that's the way Europeans eat meat. I remember inviting a team of French volcanologists and their wives for dinner in Hawaii (25 years ago) and having them stare in horror/puzzlement at my offering of Swiss steak and mashed potatoes.