Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be sharing some fantastic recipes to prepare for your Cinco de Mayo celebration beginning with an authentic carne asada recipe that has been gifted to me by one of my father’s Mexican-born ranch foremen.
Growing up on the Central Coast of California meant I grew up regularly eating home made tortillas, mole, sopes, beans and of course, carne asada.
There’s a thousand ways to prepare and cook carne asada, some of which have been heavily American-ized that if you serve it to our friends from south of the border, they’ll say you made a tasty steak. Uhh, thank you? Every once in and a while, my father will drop off a plate of carne asada that’s been cooked out at the ranch along with heaping servings of Spanish rice. The flavors of the meat are simple and straight forward, there’s no gimmicks and extra ingredients to make it a flashy dish.
As it was explained to me, you can use whatever cut of meat you’d like, just don’t use “beef flap” meat that is advertised for carne asada—hey, I don’t make the rules, I’m simply following instructions given to me for once. It was suggested that I use flank steak, skirt steak or go down to my local Mexican market and ask for traditional carne asada meat, which is what I did. I checked the sticker on the package of meat for an indication of what cut of meat it was—no dice, it’s meant to be a secret apparently. If I were to wager a guess, I’d tell you it’s skirt steak.
Unlike the meat you receive inside of your tacos, burritos and tortas, the meat is cooked in one long strip. I’m told this is because it makes it easier to flip and control the charring on the meat, which is muy importante. The Food Lab goes into further detail about different cuts of meat and offers another marinade option for carne asada.
The seasoning on this carne asada is incredibly simple: lemon juice is used to tenderize the meat, and after about 20 minutes, a generous helping of Chef Merito Steak & Meat Seasoning is rubbed all over the meat. If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person, there’s salt, sugar, paprika, garlic, oregano, cumin, onion and black pepper in the seasoning.
Look how delicious that meat looks. LOOK. AT. IT. Even as I edited the photos I could close my eyes and smell how frigging delicious it was. I wish I had some right now, after the season finale of “Homeland” I need comfort food. If you watch "Homeland," I want to know how you feel after watching that episode. I’m more upset about the loss of Quinn than I was about Jax on "Sons of Anarchy." I need a life. But seriously, tell me your thoughts!
Okay… back to this carne asada recipe. Since we served it pot luck style with servings of delicious Spanish rice, homemade tortillas, guacamole and salsa, I left the wine in the cellar and had a couple of different beer options. I for one really love the flavor combinations of carne asada and Negro Modelo but if you need wine to survive and hate beer, both Tempranillo and Malbec would be fantastic pairings.
Wine Pairing Suggestions
Achaval-Ferrer Mendoza Malbec 2015 has easily become my favorite “every day” Malbec, especially when I’m eating grilled beef. At $30, this wine received a 91 from Wine Advocate and has long, silky tannins and noticeable minerality. Fair warning: consuming Malbec produced by Achaval-Ferrer will turn you into a Malbec snob (I haven’t purchased a single Californian-produced Malbec since being introduced to this label.)
Hearst Ranch Chileno Tempranillo 2013 is perfect for those of us who adore tobacco flavors in wine—it’s perfect with charred, grilled meats. For $32 a bottle, this Central Coast Tempranillo received a 90 from Willfred Wong of wine.com and it’s easy to understand why. There’s subtle fruit, but the magic is in the savoriness of the wine itself.
3 pounds skirt steak (or whatever meat you choose to use)
juice of 2 lemons
generous helping of Chef Merito Steak & Meat Seasoning
Light charcoal grill. Once charcoal is covered with ash, cover the grill for approximately 10 minutes to preheat the grill. Once it’s nice and hot, add the meat, uncovered and grill for approximately 8 minutes. If you have a thermometer, 110º is the magic temperature.
Allow the meat to rest, covered beneath foil for about 10 minutes. Slice against the grain and serve immediately. We cut our slices somewhat thick so our guests can determine their perfect bite size pieces, otherwise thinner is best.
Table decor was purchased from Oriental Trading Company.