Monday, March 30, 2009

TACOS AL CARBON

Cooking "al carbon"--grilling over charcoal--is a great specialty of northern Mexico. One of the best ways to appreciate their cooking technique is in tacos al carbon, for which the meat, after being marinated and grilled, is coarsely diced or thinly sliced and then folded into warmed corn tortillas along with guacamole, salsa, and a grilled green onion-the standard edible garnish for this dish. (I substituted sauteed onions and peppers for the green onion)
My niece was here visiting for a while and she kept talking about this wonderful "taco" that someone made for her back in January. She gave me the name, but didn't have a recipe. So I went searching for it. I found the basic recipe and then she gave me the "spins" that this man put on it. If you are pressed for time, you can substitute pre-made, store bought salsa (Pace is best). But DO NOT try to use a substitute for the marinade. It makes the steak SO juicy and flavorful!

Step 1:

STEAK MARINADE

1 - 10 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 - 4 oz can, chopped chiles w/ juice (can also use jalapenos)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
1 tsp. Cumin

Place all ingredients in blender and whirl until well combined.

Use With Two Pounds:

Pork tenderloin, or
Chicken breasts, or
Beef tenderloin, or
Flank steak

Pour marinade in large resealable plastic food bag. Mix well.
Add meat, seal the bag and turn over several times to
coat meat thoroughly. Place bag in refrigerator, turning bag occasionally
8 hours or overnight.

Remove meat from marinade.
  1. Preheat a gas grill (medium high) or light a charcoal fire and let it burn down until the coals are evenly white. Adjust the rack to 6-inches above the heat source. Lay the flank steak on the rack and grill it, covered, turning the steak once, for a total of about 12 minutes for medium-rare, or until done to your liking. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent it with foil, and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Brush the green onions lightly with olive oil and lay them on the grill rack. Cover and cook, turning them once, until they are just lightly browned and becoming tender, a total of 3 or 4 minutes. Transfer them to a platter. (I substituted sauteed onions and peppers for the green onion)
  3. Carve the flank steak across the grain and at a slight angle into 1/2-inch slices. Cut the slices crosswise into 1/2-inch cubes. Serve immediately, accompanied by the grilled onions, tortillas, guacamole and salsa. The best way to enjoy your tacos al carbon is with steak that is grilled med-rare. This batch shown here is about medium to medium well. The longer you cook your steak, the tougher it gets. You can see the importance of letting it rest for a few minutes - the juice has a chance to redistribute and when you slice the meat, it's so juicy.

Step 2: Assembly

Warm flour tortillas
Grilled steak
3/4 loaf Velveeta, cut into chunks
1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
1 large green pepper, sliced thin
1 large yellow pepper, sliced thin
Pico de gallo (homemade is best - but can substitute prepared salsa)
Chopped lettuce
Guacamole (homemade is best - but can substitute store bought)
Sour cream

Heat a cast iron skillet to med high. Drizzle with olive oil. Place onions and peppers into hot skillet and saute until soft and opaque.
Place Velveeta chunks in microwave safe bowl and heat until melted. You can thin it with milk if it seems too thick. It should be a cheese sauce, not watery, but you need to be able to pour it.
Begin with the warm tortilla, place meat down the middle, top with sauteed onions and peppers, drizzle melted Velveeta over that. Top with Pico de gallo and guacamole. Fold it all up like a burrito and turn it seam side down. Drizzle with more Velveeta, sprinkle with chopped lettuce and add a dollop of sour cream.
Prepare your tastebuds for a party!

5 comments:

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

Wow! This looks good!

CONNIE'S THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART said...

That looks so good. We will have to try that. Thank you.What would we do with out you. connie

Tammi said...

Great blog and even better looking recipes.

alisa@foodista.com said...

Wow! I've been looking for a different taco recipe and am I glad to find yours! These look awesome!
Hope you wont mind but I'd love to direct Foodista readers to your site, just add this little widget here and you're all set to go, Thanks!

Jessica said...

You have some awesome ideas and this is one of your best!