Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Carne Asada, continued

So, to continue with the previous post, I next had to tackle the carne asada. I was so excited to make this with Ribeyes, since that is my favorite steak. Actually, when we do grill steak, we never touch it - just buy a good steak, add salt and pepper, and grill. But I was willing to make an exception for something that sounded so extraordinary.

According to Chef Bayless' description, he used guajillos and anchos in his adobo sauce. He has a similar recipe, without the anchos, in his cookbook Mexican Kitchen. I decided to semi-adopt this recipe, reducing the amount of liquid to make a thicker marinating sauce. I did forget one small ingredient in the recipe: 1 T. of cider vinegar. Looking ahead, I will definitely incorporate this next time, but I won't say we really felt the lack of it during our dinner. Also, we served our dinner taco-style, so I chopped up some onions and cilantro to top the meat. So, here is the recipe, as I prepared it, but with the vinegar.

Carne Asada
adapted from Mexican Kitchen by Rick Bayless

6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
about 3 oz. ancho chiles (dried), stemmed and seeded
about 2 oz. guajillo chiles (dried), stemmed and seeded
1 t. dried Mexican oregano
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t. cumin
1 1/2 c. beef broth (I used rich chicken stock, as that's what I had available)
2 T. olive oil
Kosher salt
1 t. sugar
1 T. cider vinegar
3 lbs. Ribeye steaks, boneless, 1" thick
corn tortillas
1 small onion, diced (preferably white)
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
limes, quartered

Heat an ungreased griddle (I like cast iron for this) over medium heat, then toast the garlic on the griddle, turning a few times, for about 15 minutes. While this is going on, open up all of the chiles and toast them for a few seconds on each side, pressing them down with a spatula to ensure more even heat distribution. Move the chiles to a bowl, cover them with hot water, and wrap the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the chiles about 30 minutes to rehydrate, stirring once or twice. (If you have fair skin like me, use gloves, or your hands may be on fire later in the night and most of the following day.)

Drain the chiles, then add them to the blender with the oregano, pepper, cumin, just-peeled garlic, and about 1/2 c. or so of the broth. Blend until smooth, then press through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, quickly add all of the sauce and begin stirring. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until it's a bit thicker, then add the rest of the stock. I still like it to be fairly thick, so adjust the stock quantity as necessary, since I certainly wasn't measuring. Simmer for at least a few minutes (and up to 45) to let the flavors come together, then add the sugar and salt to taste. (It should taste pretty spicy, but the salt needs to come through a bit to season the meat as well.) Cool the sauce to room temperature.

Divide the sauce into two parts: about 2/3 and 1/3. Reserve the 1/3 for topping the meat later. Add the vinegar and 1/2 t. salt to the rest, then spread the adobo sauce on both sides of the steaks. Cover and let it marinade for at least half an hour, and up to four hours.

Fire up your charcoal (we use a chimney) and let it get white hot. Pour the charcoal onto one half of the grill, creating a hot side and a cool side. Don't skimp on the amount of charcoal, as you want the hot side to be as hot as possible; if your grill isn't hot enough, the steaks will get too done by the time they have a good char. Throw the steaks on the hot side and grill them until they get a nice char, then turn them over and do the same on the other side. Move them to the cooler side and put the lid on until they are done to your preference. This whole process takes about eight minutes for a medium-rare steak.

After bringing the steak in, let it rest for just a couple of minutes to pull the juices back in, then slice it against the grain in 1/4" slices. Meanwhile, wrap the corn tortillas in a towel, then microwave them on high until they are steamed and fully warmed, 1-2 minutes, depending on how many tortillas you have in there.

Combine the onions and cilantro in a small dish.

To create the perfect carne asada taco, place some of the meat in the tortilla, then top with the onions and cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and a small pinch of Kosher salt. If you're looking for additional heat, add some of the leftover adobo sauce. I can't even tell you how good it is.

I'm thinking of trying this with chicken, though it will in no way approach the Ribeye. If I do, I'll let you know what I think.


Anonymous said...

Would this be good with tofu?

Rachel said...

Yes, Michele, I'm sure it would. You should try it and let us know. We'll be waiting.

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

It does sound delicious. Too bad we can't get good chillis down here, but I'd probably be the only one in Aus buying them.

Anonymous: make sure you use firm tofu and you may not want to marinate it too long.

Rachel said...

Alaskan Dave,

If you email me at rachalbrecht (at) gmail dot com, I'll send you chiles!


Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

I appreciate the thought, but I think our customs and quarantine (AQIS) would stop them.

One time a friend sent a care package which included a tin of Old Bay Seasonings and Pemmican Jerky. Now, the pemmican was completely sealed in it's vacuum packed plastic bag but AQIS took that out of the package but let the Old Bay through.

Oh, on one trip I snuck a few packets of tomatilla seeds in my luggage --don't tell, 'k?