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
4 to 6
For the Carne Asada
fresh lime juice
4 to 5
cloves garlic, peeled
dark brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar
ancho chili powder
cumin, plus more for sprinkling on the steak before you grill it
1 1/2 to 2 pounds
Mesquite charcoal or chips, or grill pan
For the Rajas
large onions, peeled, halved, and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.