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Carne Asada Tacos

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Serves 6

Makes 18 tacos

  • To learn more, read:
    How to Grill Skirt Steak
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 136

Often featured in fajitas, skirt steak is perfect for tacos, too. Because of the meat’s striations, it slices into bits that have the perfect amount of tenderness, chew, and caramelized nubbins. Tangy pickled onion and salsa verde are the perfect accompaniments.

For the steak
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lb. skirt steak, trimmed of excess surface fat
Tip:
Looking at a raw skirt steak, it’s easy to see the lines of fat within the striations of meat. Don’t try to remove it. The fat adds flavor and bastes the meat as it melts away during cooking.
For the quick pickled onion
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
For the salsa verde
  • 1 lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed under warm water, halved
  • 6 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves chopped and stems reserved
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt
For serving
  • 18 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 oz. (1 cup) crumbled cotija cheese or queso fresco
  • 4 limes, cut into wedges
Marinate the steak

Pulse the garlic and jalapeño in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the cilantro and pulse a couple more times. Transfer to a baking dish or zip-top bag large enough to hold the steak. Add the oil, orange juice, lime juice, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper and stir to combine. Add the steak and marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature or up to 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Pickle the onion

In a medium bowl, toss the onion with the salt and sugar to coat well. Let sit at room temperature until the onion softens, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cool water while tossing with your fingers to remove the salt and sugar. Pat dry on paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the onion and vinegar. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Make the salsa verde

Put the tomatillos, cilantro stems, onion, jalapeño, and garlic in a 2-quart saucepan. Add 1-1/2 cups water and cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the tomatillos are tender, about 30 minutes. Using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor, purée until almost smooth. Allow the mixture to cool. Add the chopped cilantro leaves and lime juice and season to taste with salt. Refrigerate until needed. (Leftover salsa will keep for a week.)

Grill the steak and serve

Prepare a high (500°F to 600°F) charcoal or gas grill fire. Remove the steak from the marinade, season with salt and pepper, and grill, flipping once, until grill marks form on both sides and cooked to your liking, about 3 minutes per side for medium rare (135°F).Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm the tortillas on the grill until light grill marks form on both sides and they soften, about 30 seconds. Slice the steaks with the grain into 4- to 5-inch-long pieces, then against the grain into thin slices no wider than 1/4 inch.

Assemble the tacos with the tortillas, steak, salsa, pickled onion, cilantro, and cheese. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 620, Fat (kcal): 27, Fat Calories (g): 240, Saturated Fat (g): 9, Protein (g): 42, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11, Carbohydrates (mg): 54, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 3, Sodium (g): 840, Cholesterol (g): 120, Fiber (g): 5,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Luckily, I read the previous review and reduced the water to 1 cup for the salsa verde. Turned out just right. I thought the meat was bland, but the other flavors filled in. That said, this is a pretty good recipe. My wife and I enjoyed it. The pickled onion, salsa verde, and cheese were very tasty and would work well in other dishes.

The meat got rave reviews and we loved the pickled onions. The salsa verde makes a lot and mine turned out soupy with 1.5 cups of water-- I might add 1 cup and see if you need more.

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