Friday, September 21, 2007

Carne Asada

On his website, Rick Bayless responds to a question about Frontera Grill's carne asada. He says, "Our original steak is a boneless rib steak that's marinated in adobo (ancho and guajillo chiles blended with roasted garlic, vinegar and spices), served with black beans, rustic guacamole and fried sweet plantains (that are topped, in a traditional style, with homemade crema and fresh cheese)." I read this the other day, drooling, and decided that living 1500 miles from Chicago shouldn't keep me from enjoying the same thing.

Of course, that wasn't a recipe, but it was close enough to get me started.

I made the black beans on Friday, which were very easy. First, I chopped up a large onion and sautéed it over medium in about 2 T. olive oil. After about 10 minutes, when it was carmelizing nicely, I added a pound of black (turtle) beans, as well as 3-4 cups of water. I brought that to a boil, then turned it down to simmer. I checked it periodically, making sure the water level was always 1/2 an inch above the beans, at least, and after 3-4 hours, they were soft throughout. I salted them to taste, then cooled and refrigerated them for the next day.

Oh, I decided to add something to the menu that was not there: Bobby Flay's Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad. I half to add my two cents to the recipe, of course. First, I quit adding corn after 6 ears; 8 would be overkill for sure, but I had large ears of corn. Second, the bleu cheese (I used Maytag, my favorite) was a little strong at 8 oz. I would recommend 6 oz., though I didn't think it was overly strong the following day when I devoured plenty of leftovers. It's a fantastic salad, and we'll definitely make it again. I did want to quickly cook the corn without using up all the heat from the charcoal, so we husked it, rubbed it lightly with olive oil, and threw it on the grill for three or four minutes. It worked great, especially since fresh corn doesn't need to cook for very long to be tender and cook. In fact, when I was little and shucked corn from dawn to dusk with my sister (okay, just the hour before dinner), I often ate an ear of corn right then. It was pretty irresistible. Besides, it was my pay.

The guacamole was very easy, since I had Mark make it. He just smashed up some avocados with a potato masher, added some lemon and lime juice, salt, and a bit of salsa. Mmmm, mmm. It was especially delicious served right next to the reheated black beans, with a little drizzle of Crema Mexicana over the beans as well.

The plantains were also fairly simple. To make sweet plantains, slice up some very ripe plantains, about 1/4" - 1/2" thick. Heat about 1/4" of canola or other vegetable oil over medium high, or just less than medium high. When it is hot, add the plantains, and cook them on each side for about 2 minutes, until golden. Remove to a paper towel. Set on a platter, then crumble some Queso Fresco over them and drizzle on some Crema Mexicana. Oh, they are delicious. In fact, I'm making more tonight, since I had one plantain that took a while to ripen. I can't wait!

By the way, the plantains are sweet when they're very yellow and look all bruised. The peel is very thick and the bruising usually hasn't reached the fruit when the peel looks ruined. The green plantains are not as sweet but are still very delicious, and to cook those, you want to cut them about 3/4" thick. After you cook them for about 1 minute on each side, remove them to the paper towel, then smash them flatter (the bottom of a glass works great for this) and fry them again, this time until they're golden on both sides.

(to be continued...)

1 comment:

Heidi said...

Oh, yum! Can't wait for the rest.