Carne Asada con Rajas

July 18, 2011
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Carne asada is steak grilled over a fire and then sliced thinly. The thin pieces are perfect for rolling into tortillas as in a "taco al carbon." Here, we take the slices of deliciously mesquite grilled flank steak and serve them with a side of rajas, sautéed poblano peppers and onions. To complete the meal, we add a side of refried black beans and then sprinkle cotija cheese over the top. Tortillas are always welcome but they are on the side.
I know that it looks like there are lots of steps and ingredients, but this meal comes together quickly. That makes it perfect for any weeknight, but it is nice enough for entertaining friends.
Enjoy. - Waverly —Waverly

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Waverly is a former lawyer, and a fantastic home cook.
WHAT: The spicy, simple, comforting meal we want to make year-round.
HOW: Marinate, make your rajas, then grill your steak. Eat.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This dish unites elements we'd eat all on their own: creamy, smoky rajas, and perfectly seasoned steak. Eaten together, it's perfection on a plate -- just add a squeeze of lime. —A&M

What You'll Need
  • For the Carne Asada
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin, plus more for sprinkling on the steak before you grill it
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds flank steak
  • Mesquite charcoal or chips, or grill pan
  • For the Rajas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled, halved, and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 8 medium poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch thick strips (note: If you would like a little more heat, leave some seeds.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 cup crema Mexicana or heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cotija cheese for garnishing
  • Chopped cilantro for garnishing
  • Lime wedges for serving
  1. MARINATE THE STEAK THE NIGHT BEFORE: In a blender, combine olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, and seasonings. Blend until everything is combined. Place the flank steak as flat as possible in a gallon-size freezer bag and pour the marinade into the bag. Seal the bag and place in refrigerator for 1 to 12 hours.
  2. PREP THE GRILL AND THE STEAK: Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the marinade. Season meat with a sprinkle of cumin and a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare a hot fire. Use mesquite chips for their great flavor. (**Skip down to step 4 and make the rajas. Keep them warm while you grill the steak.) When the coals are coated with grey ash and you cannot keep your hand above the grate for more than a minute, you have a hot fire that is ready for the steak. Place the steak directly over the hot coals. Grill each side until it is charred but the center is rare to barely medium rare. Start with 1 to 3 minutes per side. Cooking time will depending on your fire and the thickness of the steak. If 3 minutes doesn't get it, move the steak to the cool side of the grill and check every minute. Don't overcook and remember that the meat will continue to cook while it rests.
  3. LET STEAK REST AND THEN SLICE: When the steak is done, remove it from the grill and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes. This gives the juices inside time to be reabsorbed. Also, the steak will continue to cook. Slice steak across the grain into 1/4 - 1/2-inch slices. Cover to keep warm while you make the rajas.
  4. SAUTÉ PEPPERS AND ONIONS: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook until they are beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the poblanos and garlic. Cook until peppers are tender/crisp, 3 to 4 minutes more. Add the oregano and crema. Stir to combine. Cook the rajas over low heat until the crema has reduced just a bit so that the onions and peppers are coated but not drowning in it. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. SERVE: Spoon a generous amount of rajas onto each plate. Place some refried black beans alongside. Place 2 to 3 slices of carne asada on top of the rajas. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and then garnish with fresh cilantro and a wedge of lime.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lisa Devereaux
    Lisa Devereaux
  • Laila Pedro
    Laila Pedro
  • juliunruly
  • pow
  • JanetFL
Waverly used to be a lawyer and is now a mother 24/7. She has made a commitment to cooking for her family and absolutely loves it even when her family does not. She is teaching them, one meal at a time, to enjoy wholesome homemade food. She abhors processed food but recognizes its insidious nature and accepts the fact that her children will occasionally get some Skittles, Doritos, or the like. Her philosophy and hope is that if she teaches them well at home, they will prefer wholesome healthy foods when they go out into the world without her.

23 Reviews

Darian August 1, 2021
We loved this recipe! It was really easy and came together quickly, yet felt like a special dinner. The combination of flavors and textures was perfect. I will definitely make this again.
Lisa D. August 11, 2015
This was excellent! I used a flat iron steak because it is a favorite cut of mine for fajitas and tacos al carbon, and made some shallow cuts in the meat to help the marinade soak in. I marinated 2 hours, and it was already good, but the rest was even better the next day.
Kathy January 1, 2015
Delicious! Put the meat in marinade in the morning. Threw it on the grill about 12 hours later. So flavorful & juicy. Enjoyed it for New Years eve with a yummy Malbec. Thank you for sharing this recipe.
whmcdevitt July 27, 2014
an amazing dish with such great debt of flavor. my guests were full of praise. it's an amazing meal. i will make this again and again! thanks for sharing!
whmcdevitt July 26, 2014
making this now for a summer mouth is watering! I'll be back with all the rave reviews.......I already know this is a winner/keeper!
nicolas B. June 12, 2014
Im uruguayan, this is certainly a good dish, but the only uruguayan part is the meat. Which we cook on a fire grill, not a coal or gas, wood. Its usually served with some simple salads ("ensalada rusa" for instance, potato, carrot, peas, mayo) or vegetables cooked in the same fire.
Laila P. June 12, 2014
This looks delicious, but it is Mexican, not Uruguayan...
chef L. May 13, 2014
Great dish, to be sure. I did add a jalapeño to the marinade and scored the flap meat before introducing it to the marinade. And about that marinade: it's genuinely spicy and has a complexity of flavors, easily as good as any I've tried. Thanks for a terrific recipe. I'll be making that sauce again.
juliunruly January 8, 2014
This was fantastic. We got some refried beans from the local taqueria and the whole thing was just delicious. The rajas would work well with some delicious spicy lime shrimp, too.
pow November 2, 2013
I used a cast iron pan because I don't have a grill and it worked really well!

Thanks for the recipe!
Waverly November 7, 2013
I am glad it worked well in a pan. If you don't have a grill, you could also try broiling.
JanetFL September 27, 2013
Congratulations, Waverly! Excited to try your recipe!
Kukla September 26, 2013
Congratulations Waverly! Everything on the plate looks very, very tasty!
Waverly September 26, 2013
Thanks, Kukla!
savorthis September 26, 2013
We have a special song and dance for taco night and this looks just great- looking forward to trying it. Congrats!
Waverly September 26, 2013
Thank you! Hope you give it a try.
aargersi September 26, 2013
Congratulations Waverly! Love these things!
Waverly September 26, 2013
Me too, Abbie. We love our Mexican food down here!
Oh wow, I'm all in for this recipe! This sounds truly fabulous. Our temps are supposed to finally warm up enough to get grilling this weekend, so this is a welcome recipe, as I love me some spicy grilling!
MrsBeeton June 18, 2012
For a taco night party, I marinated both a steak and chicken breasts with the marinade. And then I used the leftover steak marinade (after I'd put the steak on the grill) with the tilapia that I quick-fried. Everyone agreed that these were the best taco fillings ever. A keeper, this recipe!
Sagegreen July 21, 2011
mpittsm July 20, 2011
That looks like something i can get on board with! Looks fantastic!
hardlikearmour July 20, 2011
This sounds super yum!