International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Carne Asada

Carne asada tacos

(Central American grilled steak)

Image Creative Commons by pancakedjess

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Carne asada, Spanish for "grilled meat," is great backyard barbecue food. Smoky and tender, carne asada is enjoyed throughout Central America, but is particularly popular in Mexico.

Many recipes get very elaborate with all manner of flavorings in the marinade. But the basic recipe relies on a simple combination of onions and citrus juice to highlight the flavor of the beef.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Flank or skirt steak -- 2 to 3 pounds
  • Onions, thinly sliced -- 1 to 2
  • Oranges, juice only -- 2 to 3
  • Salt and pepper -- to season
  • Oil -- 1/4 cup

Method

  1. In a large stainless steel or glass bowl, mix the meat with the onions, orange juice, salt, pepper and oil. Cover and marinate at least 1 hour, or better yet overnight.
  2. Start a good fire in your grill, preferably using mesquite charcoal. Remove the meat from its marinade, pat dry and grill over hot flame until the first side is well browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Turn the meat over and grill on the other side until cooked to desired doneness. Remove to a cutting board and let rest for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Slice the meat across the grain into thin strips and serve as is or as a topping for tostadas or a filling for tacos and burritos.

Carne Asada Variations

  • For a Mexican-Style Fiesta: Serve carne asada in tortillas with shredded cabbage, salsa fresca, sliced red onions and guacamole. Side dishes could include frijoles de la olla, fresh radishes and grilled scallions, or cebollitas.
  • Nicaraguan-Style Carne Asada: Use ribeye steaks and cut them into long strips about 5 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. For the marinade, substitute lime juice for the orange juice and use 3 to 5 cloves of minced garlic instead of (or in addition to) the onions. Grill the marinated strips of steak to your desired doneness and serve with platanos fritos, gallo pinto and pico de gallo (see salsa fresca recipe) or chismol sauce.
  • Marinade: Add some lime juice along with the orange juice in the marinade if you like, or use sour orange juice (naranja agria) if you can find it. Other possible marinade additions include ground cumin, chili powder and chopped cilantro. Everyone cook has his or her own favorites.

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