Grilled Carne Asada
Tamales, Campfire Fish Tacos, Grilled Guacamole, now carne asada? Is there a pattern here or is it just innate skills at work? No matter, in between all the burgers, pork steaks and rib eyes, I indulge myself (and my wife) with authentic Mexican cuisine on the grill. I was inspired to make my own when I just couldn’t find a place in town that makes good carne asada.
***Editor’s Note ~ Arthur has started his own blog and I’m more than happy to promote him on mine. His new site is called MajorLeagueGrilling.com***
It starts with the steak, most restaurants use thin sliced flank steak. Flank is a good steak, it’s easy to find, but it is a tough piece of meat. The perfect steak for carne asada is skirt steak. This is a tough piece of meat too, but it can become very tender if grilled right. Skirt steak is really difficult to find, it’s not going to be in your typical grocery store unless you live in a Latin community. In fact, I found mine while I was buying ingredients for my tamales at the Mexican grocery store. I just asked for it and the cashier asked me “how much do you need?” They sold it for $5/lb, while just a couple of days before, my butcher told me he could get me some for $10/lb. I took 2 lbs, but I should have asked for more. The skirt steak looked very fresh and it had a nice marbled appearance.
Because of a few nights of inclement weather, the skirt steak had to sit in the freezer for a week. When it thawed in fridge for a couple of days, it suffered some oxidation and started to turn brown around the edges. I recommend using it immediately since it’s a very thin piece of meat. Just to be sure, it still smelled fresh and the steak didn’t feel tacky, a clear indication of spoiled beef. By the way, look at that marbling!
Feel free to trim off the fat and just to clean it up a little. However, to me, you’re just taking away the flavor.
This would be my first time making carne asada and it won’t be my last because it came out very tasty. I’ll show you how I prepared mine, and then I’ll show you how great they came out on the grill.
I begin with a spicy citrus marinade.
2 Serrano peppers sliced
1 Jalapeno pepper sliced
1 Cup of sliced onions
½ Cup of cilantro
2 TBSP of minced garlic
2 LBs of skirt steak
First, slice the oranges and limes in half:
Here is the juice I squeezed from the fruit, hmmmmm….it doesn’t look like enough. I might have to improvise:
Add the sliced onion and cilantro to the juice:
Add the jalapeños and the serrano peppers to the marinade:
Add the garlic too:
This marinade definitely needs more liquids, but I’m all out of juice.
Beer saves the day. I bypassed the flavor challenged Bud Light for the unfiltered wheat pale ale craft brew. This turned out to be a great marinade:
***Editor’s note ~ This marinade being diluted with beer may have saved the dish. Too much concentrated citrus will cook meat with the acid from in the juice. I would not recommend upping the citrus in this and skipping the beer as you may pull well done meat out of the ziplock before it ever hits the grill.***
Pour the marinade and add the skirt steak into a one gallon or bigger storage bag. Take out all the air and seal it tight:
Marinate the steak for a few hours in the fridge. I let mine marinate over night. This is going to have some intense flavor!
The day of the cook, my family and I spent the day in Grafton, IL. We did a bit of trolling around in hot humid conditions. We ate lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Mississippi Half Step. The fried catfish sandwich is good and enormous there! The day ended after cruising along the sparkling river and riding the ferry back to St. Charles. The ferry ride was a bonus, we had to take the extended route because of the low river. The boys loved it, we all did:
After our day trip across the river, we headed back home and started our evening meal. To grill the carne asada, I prepared the grill manufacturer that shall not be named for direct grilling. I filled my charcoal starter up with charcoal:
Unquestionably, I always opt for the charcoal starter. I never use lighter fluid. My poor wife recently had a company picnic where they had grilled hamburgers. She said her veggie burger was ruined because the cooker used large amounts of lighter fluid. Yes, you really can taste the difference.
Moreover, I used red oak chunks for more flavor. Mesquite wood is also a great substitute:
Around this time I noticed a few drops of rain falling down. Rain doesn’t really bother me, I’m committed to the task at hand. Unless there was lightning or severe thunderstorms, I can work through it. While the coals got hot, I prepared the meat. I pulled out a few items.
The skirt steak is now ready to be rubbed down. It didn’t need it, but I wanted to try out the new fajita seasoning I just bought. If you don’t have a rub, just use salt and pepper to season. When I took out the steak from the marinade, it had a citrus and cilantro aroma scent. It smelled delicious. Next, I laid them flat on the table and applied the rub on the steak to both sides:
When I was done with that, I check on the coals which were glowing orange and the rain was coming down a little harder. So I banked the charcoal to one side and now it’s ready to go:
Hoping for a quick grill, I threw the steaks on. And just when I thought I could finish before it rained harder, I was caught outside in a thunder storm:
I didn’t mind, it was a relief from being out in near 100 degree weather earlier. The coals were so hot, the rain evaporated on the lid of the grill manufacturer that shall not be named. During this time, I was unable to take decent pictures, but here is one after about 5 minutes on one side just before I flipped it:
After a few minutes on the other side, I put them on the opposite end with no coals. I placed them on piece of foil that was cooking onions. Skirt steak is best cooked well done, it has become a very tender piece of meat:
Just as when the rain was starting to let up, the carne asada was done. Let it rest for a minute:
Carne asada is a versatile dish. It can be served as is, but I felt like making them into tacos this evening. First I cut the steak into thin strips. Conventional wisdom is to slice it against the grain, but I sliced it with the grain. I took one bite and the steak was so tender it tore off easily. Against or with the grain is up to you:
Second, put some carne asada on a couple of heated stacked corn tortillas. Two tortillas give the taco more strength so it doesn’t fall apart during the final step. Third, add some grilled onion, sliced avocado and top it with salsa:
Final step, it’s time to enjoy the best taco I ever had:
I’m definitely doing these again. Next time, I’ll marinade the skirt steak using dried chile’s or make some carne asada fries or make more tacos! So many possibilities…
***Editor’s note ~ Awesome job as usual Arthur. Keep up the great work.***
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email and I will forward it on to Arthur.
For other beef concoctions on the grill, click here.
- Juice of 4 oranges
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 serrano peppers, sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
- 1 cup of sliced onions
- ½ cup of cilantro
- 2 tbsp of minced garlic
- 1 beer
- 2 lbs of skirt steak
- Fajita seasoning
- Half an onion, sliced
- Corn tortillas
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a resealable plastic bag
- Place in the refrigerator for 2-12 hours
- Remove the skirt steak from the bag and dust with the fajita seasoning
- Prepare the grill for two zone/indirect grilling with coals on one side and nothing on the other
- Place some red oak on the coals for more flavor (optional)
- Place the seasoned skirt steak over the coals for about five minutes a side to get some nice char
- Move the skirt steak over to the side with no sides and place on aluminum foil filled with grilling onions.
- Cook until well done
- Remove from the grill and let rest
- Allow to rest for 3-4 minutes and slice across the grain into thin strips
- Put some grilled carne asada on a couple of heated stacked corn tortillas, add some grilled onion, sliced avocado and top it with salsa