The smell of well marinaded meat sizzling on the grill makes my mouth water – instantly!
While doing a good, long marinade tries my patience, it certainly is worth the flavour and tenderness it gives even a mediocre cut of meat in the end.
Sure, you can spend big bucks on the highest quality meat…
…but sometimes it is nice to have an option to turn the more affordable cuts into a melt-in-your-mouth delight!
Hence the 24 hour marinade time for my carne asada recipe.
I often buy a bulk cut of round steak to cube for round steak and gravy, slice and tenderize for chicken fried steak or keep a good chunk to use as a slow cooker roast.
However, it also makes for a delicious alternative to skirt, flap or flank steak for carne asada.
I clean all the fat off and cut long slabs of meat with the grain, about an inch thick.
Then the marinade process begins!
Some people prefer to place meat in a glass pan with a lid, however I tend to simply place the meat in a large zip-lock bag; this method makes it so easy to make sure the marinade is mixed well and equally proportioned across the meat.
To start this marinade, I zest a lime, then squeeze all the juice into the bag.
The citrus is an amazing tenderizer and adds flavour that makes all the others really pop.
Next, I add cayenne powder (I LOVE a bit of spice), cumin, and garlic.
Spices are what really kick an ordinary recipe up a notch!
So do herbs, hence adding a bunch of chopped cilantro (even if you are not a huge cilantro lover, trust me on this and try it this way at least once!)
The drizzle of avocado oil helps the steak sizzle on the grill.
The splash of soy sauce, along with my secret weapon – Worcestershire sauce (and no! I did not spell that correctly the first time, but I sure know how to use it in cooking) – come next.
They bring a ZING of WOW!
Sometime I will add a few drops of liquid smoke for that amazing smokiness.
And finally, some brown sugar.
If you have never marinaded meat before, you might be surprised that there is sugar in this recipe.
The sugar helps give a carmelized finish to the meat as it grills and enhances the flavours.
Have I mentioned that flavour is my #1 focus when cooking? You can probably guess, given how much I mention it!
Close the bag, leaving as little air as possible. This helps make sure the meat is evenly marinaded.
Then, give it a good mixing by working the marinade into the meat with your hands (make sure you don’t accidentally open the zip-lock – it makes a mess!)
This method is a win-win for me; less dishes to wash is always a win plus it is a fast, easy way to fully mix the marinade.
Now throw that bad boy in the fridge for 24 hours and try not to drive yourself crazy, thinking about how amazing it is going to taste – TOMORROW!
Sure, if you want to rush things you can get away with marinading it for 4 hours (or even 1 hour if you are in that much of a hurry), but the 24 hours gives it amazing, deep flavour that you just can’t beat – not to mention the tenderness!
Once your countdown has hit about 1 hour left to go, prep time starts!
Next, thinly slice the cabbage, red onion, and cucumber.
Add these to the same bowl, drizzle lemon juice over, add salt & pepper to taste, and stir well.
The crunch this “slaw” adds to the tacos makes for great texture (have I mentioned that texture is a big deal in my cooking, too?)
The crema sauce is my easy go-to for Mexican recipes. I almost always have sour cream, lime, and zest on hand!
Some people prefer variations of an avocado sauce (there are lots of recipes), which is also so tasty!
You take your pick!
If you want to go with crema sauce, mix the sour cream, lime zest, and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Now that the prep work is done (unless you are going all out and make homemade flour tortillas, too), get that grill going!
You want it pre-heated and on high heat.
Sear the meat, turning and drizzling additional marinade over it several times.
The length of time you leave it on the grill will depend on how hot your grill is in addition to your preferred “done-ness.”
I personally like a little pink in the centre, however Jake likes his more well-done.
You do you!
Well, if you are cooking for the whole family you kind of have to think of them too (in which case, having a couple cuts of meat to cook to different “done-ness” is a great idea!)
Once the meat is cooked as desired, remove from heat and let rest for a couple minutes.
This helps those juices to re-absorb into the meat and keeps it – well – juicy. And tender.
While the meat rests, this is a great time to pull out all the prepped toppings from the fridge and heat the tortillas.
You want to use small flour tortillas for this recipe.
I put them in a pan (without oil) individually on high heat until they feel hot, then flip them and remove from the heat after they puff up.
Repeat this process with each of the tortillas.
Once again, this helps bring out the flavour as well as make the tortillas nice and flexible so they don’t break apart.
PRO TIP: you can also do this part on the grill, just make sure the heat has been turned down so the tortillas don’t burn!
Now it the time to slice up that yummy goodness you have waited a full day for!
The key to cutting meat to be as tender as possible is to cut it against the grain – in nice thin strips.
You can also slice the meat into even smaller chunky and fry them in oil like the taco stands in Mexico so.
The choice is yours!
Plate your tortillas (or serve buffet style) by layering the veggie slaw on the bottom, then the carne asada, then crema sauce.
You can garnish with radishes, pico de gallo, and/or cilantro.
I personally also love an added wedge of lime to squeeze over my carne asada!
Oh, and if you happen to have any leftover carne asada (like that’s going to happen!), carne asada nachos and carne asada poutine are totally a thing.
2 pounds round steak
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup avocado oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt & pepper
Cabbage, to taste
Red onion, to taste
Cucumber, to taste
1/4 lemon, juiced
Pico de gallo, optional
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 lime, juiced
1/4 lime zest
Remove all fat from round steak and slice into long, thin strips about 1 inch thick, cutting with the grain.
Add all marinade ingredients into a large zip-lock back with the meat.
Mix well, using your hands (make sure you don’t accidentally open the zip-lock during this process).
Marinade in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Slice vegetables and combine in bowl with lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Sear meat on pre-heated grill on high heat until desired “done-ness” is reached.
Plate tacos (or serve buffet style) with sliced veggie slaw first, then meat, then crema sauce.