OH WHERE TO START. Should I mention how my grill finally works? How I just finished my grilled-focused class? All the new grill shiz I learned? How BEAUTIFUL it is outside? Everything about this post fell into perfect timing. Let me explain.
Easter Sunday I was out with the boyfriend’s family and dad texts me a picture of grill tools with a simple Happy Easter. That could only mean one thing – THE GRILL IS FIXED! My graduation party was last May and that very morning we realized the grill stopped working. One dreadful year later and it decides to fire up, just in time for this springy weather. To celebrate I picked up a nice cut of flank steak and fresh vegetables in hopes to turn my groceries into a beautiful grilled flank with a smoky salsa, and indeed that is what happened.
Carne Asada refers to thin slices of beef (usually flank or skirt steak) grilled and used as a filling for fajitas or tacos. I went to the store in hopes to find a skirt steak, but my selections were slim and ended up leaving with a flank. Both are ideal and will produce a tender piece of meat, as long as they are cut and marinaded properly. As far as prepping the meat, I trimmed off any silver skin and excess fat. Ultimately the fat will melt on the grill, so leaving some is a-okay.
I marinated my flank all day in a simple cilantro-based marinade. It just so happened this week’s class was about grilling and all things related. My chef told us salt should never be added in the marinade, considering it marinates for a longer amount of time, giving the salt more ability to “suck out moisture.” I used salt in my marinade and after a little post-class research, I found out that the added salt will not harm the protein. If anything, cut back the salt in the marinade and add it to the steak just before grilling. The last-minute salt crystallizes and aids in a beautiful crust. Aside from the steak, the other component to this dish is the smoky salsa…and now I’m drooling.
I grilled a colorful combination of red onion, jalapeno, and cherry tomato. I pureed half of the charred vegetables, then pulsed the remainder 1-2 times in the food processor to create keep large visible chunks. With the juice of a lime and fresh cilantro, this salsa had me begging for more.
Marinating the steak and creating the knife cuts could all be done in the morning, that way once it’s dinner time all that’s left to do is grill! This will come together in less than 20 minutes total, seriously it’s awesome.
I like my steak medium rare so I let it cook about 6 minutes on each side or until it reached an internal temperature of 135-140. Not just with this piece of meat, but with any cut it is so so important to let it rest 5-10 minutes after taking it off the grill. The juices have a chance to reset in the protein and it’ll also keep it a little cleaner when it’s time to carve.
Speaking of, carving is also essential in this dish. You want to cut AGAINST the grain. The easiest way to do this is to find the natural lines that run through the steak (this is the grain), turn the meat 90 degrees clockwise, then start to carve thin pieces with your knife at an angle. As long as you’re cutting the opposite direction of the grain, you’re gravy. Basically the grain is a bunch of chewy undesirable fibers that’ll have you chewing your steak all night long. Ever hear people say they don’t like steak because it’s too chewy? Show them how to properly cut and they’ll love you forever.
Once everything came together I threw tortillas on the warm grill. The texture and color makes a beautiful presentation, especially laid next to the beef and salsa.
I ended up eating mine wrapped in the tortilla with fresh avocado, but if you really want to make that wow factor for dinner, present the carved meat smothered in salsa and garnished with cilantro, but beware – it’s almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
- 1 lb. flank or skirt steak
- 1 t. cumin
- 1/2 t. pepper
- handful of cilantro leaves
- olive oil as needed
- 2 garlic cloves - smashed
- 1 lime
- 1 lb. cherry tomatoes, halved (they're easiest to prep, just cut in half)
- 2 jalapenos - halved, seeds removed (leave a few for heat)
- 1 red onion - 2" slices
- 2 t. olive oil
- 1 lime
- cilantro as needed
- Trim the steak of any excess fat or silver skin. I like to leave some fat on the meat, it helps it tenderize plus it'll melt on the grill anyways.
- In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, cumin, and pepper. Slowly drizzle in a teaspoon or two of olive oil until a paste forms. Rub all over the meat and place into a zip lock bag with the smashed garlic and the juice of a lime. I like to toss in my lime peels for more flavor.
- Let that hang out in the fridge for at least three hours. The more, the better!
- Once it's ready to grill, fire it up!
- Rub all of the vegetables with olive oil and transfer to a grill pan.
- If you don't have a grill pan - no stress! I didn't either. Instead I placed all mine on heavy duty foil, then crinkled up the edges to create a bowl around the vegetables. I used a fork to poke holes about four times in the bottom to ventilate.
- Place on the grill and grill 10-15 minutes, tossing the vegetables half way. They'll become charred and juicy.
- While those are cooking, remove the steak from the bag and shake off any excess marinate. Sprinkle with kosher salt on both sides. Place on grill and grill 6 minutes on each side, or until it reaches desired doneness. I like mine to reach an internal temperature of 140. Allow to rest 5 minutes after taking off the grill (crucial).
- Once the vegetables are done, take half and pulse finely in a food processor. Add the remaining half and pulse 1-2 times, leaving large chunks. Stir in the juice of a lime and cilantro and transfer to serving bowl.
- After the steak has rested, use a carving knife to carve against the grain at an angle. It's easiest to find the grain, rotate the meat to where the grain is facing against you, and then cut in that direction.
- Serve the salsa over the carved meat and a side of grilled tortillas!
- Make the salsa a day in advanced, the flavor will be much more intense!