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Agujas (Grilled Chuck Steaks)

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Serves 4

Agujas (pronounced ah-goo-haas) are thin, very flavorful chuck steaks. The secret of this dish is that when high-fat meat cooks over a low fire, it will be charred and impregnated with smoke but won’t dry out. If you don't have a charcoal grill, see our tips on adding smoky flavor with a gas grill. Rice and beans are traditional accompaniments.

  • 1-1/2 lb. boneless chuck eye steak or 2 lb. bone-in chuck eye steak, cut no more than 3/4-inch thick
  • Juice of 1 or 2 limes
  • Kosher salt
  • Pico De Gallo
  • 1 ripe avocado or 1 cup guacamole
  • Salsa De Serrano o Jalapeño Asado
  • 8 to 12 flour tortillas, heated

To prepare a wood or charcoal fire:  Ignite about 5 qt. mesquite or other hardwood chunks or charcoal using an electric or chimney starter. When the fire is well established, bank the coals to one side of the grill. (Grill the tomatoes and chiles for the salsa directly over the coals now, while they are still very hot). Let the coals burn down until they're covered with gray ash and no flames are visible (this will take 30 to 40 minutes from the time you bank the coals). An oven thermometer set on the grill grate opposite the coals should read 250ºF to 275ºF after the grill lid has been on for a few minutes.  Toss over the coals a handful of mesquite chips that have been soaked in water for about an hour.

To prepare a gas grill: Follow the manufacturer's instructions for setting it up for indirect grilling and smoking.

Brush the steaks lightly with the lime juice and season with salt. Put the steaks on the cooler zone of the grill (as far from the coals as possible) and cover the grill. Cook, turning once after 15 minutes, until the steaks are charred and well done yet tender, about 30 minutes.

While the steaks are grilling, prepare the pico de gallo. Just before the meat is done, slice the avocado, if using. Remove the meat from the grill and chop or slice it very thinly. Serve with the pico de gallo, the avocado or guacamole, the salsa, and the warm tortillas.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : meat only; Calories (kcal): 400; Fat (g): fat g 30; Fat Calories (kcal): 270; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 12; Protein (g): protein g 31; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 1; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 360; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 120; Fiber (g): fiber g 0;

Photo: Scott Phillips

In our area, El Paso, these thin steaks are called Chuletta. They are very thin, about 1/4" to 1/2" thick and usually have some bone in them. They cook up really quick, about 3-4 minutes per side, and are very flavorful! We serve ours just like this, in soft, home-made flour tortillas, with pico de gallo and guacamole. This is a summer staple at our house.

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