Great Meat Cookbook is your book. This week on the show, Bruce Aidells teaches us how to read the meat labels at the supermarket.
And what should we do with that meat once we’ve picked it out?
Well, you can try Aidell’s Flank Steak Carne Asada Padilla. Find another recipe for flank steak, and a video lesson about grilling, here.
Aidell recommends buying beef at a local farmers market or at a reputable grocery store or butcher. If you do not have access to quality beef in your neighborhood you can order online from B&N Ranch in Northern California or White Oak Pastures in Georgia.
Flank Steak Carne Asada Padilla
(From Bruce Aidell’s Great Meat Cookbook)
Because I live in an area with a large Mexican community, I often shop in Latino markets. Naturally, I always check out the butcher area, where there are trays of beef cut very thin and covered with various marinades, all labeled carne asada (grilled meat). While I can’t always identify the cut, I know that it is often bottom sirloin flap (bavette) cut very thin (about 1/8 inch), skirt steak, or, sometimes, butterflied flank steak. Since flap is hard to find in non-Hispanic markets and can sometimes be tough, my preferred cut is flank steak.
This recipe comes from Alex Padilla, who hails from Honduras. He started working for my wife, Nancy Oakes, at age nineteen and eventually worked his way up to executive sous chef. His mother was a hotel chef in Honduras before moving to the United States. His secret ingredient in this marinade is the fat produced from cooking Mexican chorizo.
Carne Asada Marinade
¼ cup melted chorizo drippings or bacon fat or olive oil
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons ground annatto seeds (achiote), annatto paste, or ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ cup peeled, seeded, and diced ripe Roma tomato
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1- to 1½-pound flank steak
1 Marinade: Place all the ingredients except the steak in a blender and blend well to form a homogeneous paste.
2 Pierce the steak all over with a sharp fork or skewer. Place in a large zipper-lock bag and pour over the marinade. Turn and shake the bag to distribute the marinade and place in a bowl. Marinate for 2 hours at room temperature or, better still, overnight in the refrigerator, turning and shaking the bag from time to time.
3 Remove the steak from the marinade. If the steak has been refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
4 To broil the steak: Preheat the broiler. Pat the steak dry, place on the broiler pan, and broil about 3 inches from the heating element for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and broil for 3 to 4 minutes more. This should yield medium-rare meat.
Alternatively, to grill the steak: Set up a charcoal or gas grill for medium-high heat. Pat the steak dry and grill for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and grill for 3 to 4 minutes more. This should yield medium-rare meat.
5 Let the steak rest, loosely covered with aluminum foil, for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices.
Alternative Cuts: Skirt steak or bottom sirloin flap steak (bavette); culotte steak, cut 1/2 inch thick; tri-tip steak, cut 1/2 inch thick.
• For a simple taco meal, serve the sliced steak with warm tortillas, salsas, shredded
cheese, and Pico de Gallo.
• If you want to be traditional, slice the flank horizontally in half (as if you were butterflying it, but cut all the way through) to produce 2 thin steaks, about 1/4 inch thick, and proceed with the recipe. Reduce the cooking time to 2 to 3 minutes per side; the meat will come out medium to well-done. This is how carne asada is cooked at most traditional Mexican tacquerías.
• Serve leftover carne asada as a tostada salad. Buy some premade tostada shells, and toss finely shredded cabbage with mayonnaise and lime juice until well dressed. Spoon the cabbage into the shells, then top with the meat, Pico de Gallo, and some crumbled queso fresco.
• You can gently rewarm the sliced meat in a microwave or over low heat in a covered pan, then use it to fill tacos or to make a sandwich called a Mexican torta.