Saturday, December 26, 2009

Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos with Roasted Red Peppers and Carmelized Onions

The first recipe that I've decided to take on from Rick Bayless's 'Mexico One Plate At A Time' was chosen because I picked up a 3 lb organic skirt steak from Saslove's Meat Market in the neighbourhood of Hintonburg in Ottawa, Ontario. I know that skirt steak is the prime cut for anything fajita, and I've even had it as a delicate and flavourful course at Joel Robuchon's L'Atelier so I know it is the meat to beat.
I found a recipe thanks to this blog....(add referen
ce).... and noticed that it was altered to suit the blogger-chef's needs so I thought that I could do the same since recipes are pretty much like open-source software

The recipe calls for poblanos, but in Ottawa, I didn't really have a source so I just went with a red pepper. They're flavourful when they're roasted anyway. I could already smell it in my head if that makes any sense. I also have lime juice on hand thanks to the day I juiced 20 limes, froze the juice in ice-cube trays and then vacuum sealed the cubes using a foodsaver.


lime juice
salt, pepper

Rajas (topping)
roasted red pepper
salt, pepper

skirt steak
marinade (above)

corn tortillas

sour cream
sharp cheddar
rajas (above)


Marinate the meat. Combine oni
ons garlic, lime juice, cumin and 1/2 tsp s
alt in the food processor to puree. Add marinade to meat in a ziplock bag or plastic sealable container. Marinate it for no longer than 8 hours. I gave it a good 5 and it was full of flavour and the perfect texture.

Creating the pepper and onion mixture or, according to Rick, rajas. Though he would have Poblano chilis. Those don't seem to be around Gatineau in December. Any pepper other than a green pepper will add tons of flav
our. Make sure it's not a green pepper. You're not making pizza here. Heat up a grill or put your oven on broil and place the pepper(s) a few inch
es away from the heat. Monitor it and turn it as the skin chars black. About 4-5 minutes each turn. Once the entire pepper has been charred, remove it, place it in a bowl and cover with plas
tic wrap to steam. 15 minutes later, remove all of the skin, the
stem, and seeds. Dice up the roasted pepper and place it into a bowl.
Slice up the onions and caramelize them. Use a cast iron skillet if you have one. If you don't, go frigging buy one as they are indispensable and will stay with you for LIFE! Lightly grease the pan, set it to med-low and add the onions when heated. Stir them until you see that they've softened and acquired a beautiful rich brown colour. If I had done this for 45 minutes, they would have been fit for pierogis.

Mix t
he onions with the roasted peppers, add some chopped cilantro, season with salt and pepper and you are ready to grill the meat!

Grilling the meat can be done either on a gas grill, a skillet or via oven broiling. I used a cast iron skillet with a grilled surface. I love the staggered charring effect. Remove the meat from the marinade and shake off whatever will drip off. Oil the meat or grill. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Place the meat over high heat. Turn it once after about 2 minutes or so. It depends on the thickness of your cut. Mine was pretty thick so I needed about 4 minutes a side. I was going for rare, as everyone should with a skirt steak. If you want to eat fully cooked red meat, have short ribs or a burger instead.

To serve the tacos, I used store bought corn tortillas for convenience, but if you want to take this further, make the corn tortillas yourself. I'll do that another time and blog it. For now, get some soft corn tortillas and heat them by either placing them in a dishcloth and steaming them, or put them in some foil in the oven at 350 for about 5-10 minutes. Slice the meat against the grain and then mix it in with the pepper-onion mixture. Place a portion in the warmed taco and add whatever condiments you'd like. We used a top-quality sour cream, sharp chedder, cilantro and some home made pickled jalepenos.

Bon appetit, or should I say, Buen apetito!

Cooking through Rick Bayless's 'Mexico: One Plate at a Time'

I've been a fan of mexican cuisine ever since my first taco night way back in early eighties. I discovered tacos at a friend's house when we used to have many eat-overs between the neighbourhood kids. I remember coming home excited to tell my mother that we have to make tacos! Considering that this was in Kingston, Ontario, tacos were really a product by Betty Crocker branded as Old El Paso.

On trips across the border to a town called Watertown, NY, I then discovered the more authentic mexican food of Taco Bell. I'm not lying when I say that I made specific trips to Watertown with some friends to specifically eat at Taco Bell. There was nothing like the Big Beef Burrito Supreme in our part of Canada.

Fast forward to today where I've been playing with mexican flavours for the last 10 years in the kitchen and every time I have learned something new. From enchiladas sauces to roasting my own cumin, I've given up on Old El Paso and I make my own taco season on-demand. My own chorizo, and I'm about to tackle the ultimate, my own Mole!

Anyone who's a fan of Top Chef would have definitely watched Top Chef Masters where actual top chef's battled in the kitchen to become THE Top Chef. I was amazed every time that I saw Rick Bayless on screen, talking with passion about food, flavours and his philosophies. I was inspired by him. He blew the judges away, along with his competitors with one dish, a Oaxacan mole. I realized that I had to learn this.

I became a follower of Rick Bayless on Twitter recently when I found a post of his on another blog. I sent him a tweet asking which of his books I should jump into to learn THE mole. He pointed me to 'Mexico One Plate At A Time' which I promptly ordered from Amazon and decided to crack it open over the christmas holidays, where I have the luxury of time to experiment and explore the flavours that Rick has documented within.

So I'm going to start sharing my adventures in this book on this blog since it sorely needs some content. If anyone would like to contribute with their versions of recipes from the book, Mexico: One Plate at a Time, please send me a message.

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