California Style Sunday Dinner: Asada Platter with Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak and Chicken, and Grilled Onions

Monday, December 6, 2010

One of the tastiest and easiest meals to prepare is carne asada. Translated simply from Spanish, it means "roasted meat" and often involves a thinly cut steak such as flank or skirt steak. Most of the time the meat is marinated in a simple concoction of oil, salt, pepper, and spices but sometimes it's simply seasoned with just salt and pepper. Carne asada is perfect on its own as you would eat a traditional steak, or sliced up thin or even chopped and tossed with freshly chopped onions and cilantro as a filling for tacos. I took a cue from the simple marinade of a traditional carne asada and adapted the method for chicken. By adding lemon juice it tendorizes the chicken while giving it amazing flavor. I held back on the citrus for the flank this time and instead prepared a peppery marinade emphasizing more the sweetness of dried chiles. And the best part of this meal is you can marinade the steak or chicken the night before, and grill it in 10 minutes for dinner the next day. Perfect for these busier Sundays as the holiday approach or just any busy weeknight or weekend.

The marinade will work for chicken thighs and even wings as well, but I love using healthier chicken breast for this dish. And for the steak, skirt is my favorite cut for this but flank will do nicely as well.

In terms of the traditional carne asade tossing with the onions and cilantro, if I'm going through the trouble of making a charcoal grill, you'll bet I'm going to grill my onions too. There is seriously nothing better than the taste and smell of charcoal grilled onions. They take on a sweet smoky flavor and intense fragrance that makes them simply irresistable. By adding them separately on the platter with the cilantro people can add the onions and cilantro or leave them out as they wish. Just add some corn or flour tortillas (you can also quickly warm them right on the grill as well) and you're dinner is DONE.

Enjoy it!

Marinated Carne Asada for Beef
2 lb skirt steak (or flank)
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
1-2 Tbsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp ancho chile powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 Tbsp dried oregano

Special equipment: 1 (1-gallon sized) freezer plastic bag

Place the skirt steak in the plastic bag. Add the oil, salt, pepper, chile powder, cumin, cayenne pepper if using, and oregano directly in the bag. Smoosh out all the air and seal the bag. Then using your hands, gently massage the marinade into the steak. Using the bag technique will ensure every inch of the steak gets coated in the marinade.

Set aside at room temperature if going to grill withint a half an hour. If not, place in fridge and let marinade up to 2 days in advance, massaging the marinade around once or twice a day. Take out of fridge and let beef come to room temperature before grilling, about 15 minutes.

To grill, simply preheat your charcoals to medium high (when you can hold your hand over the charcoals for 2-3 seconds). Take the skirt steak right out the bag and directly on to the grill. You want a nice sizzle. Cook on both sides until medium rare, about 6-8 minutes total time. Remove and let stand for at least 5 minutes before slicing so juices can redistribute.

When slicing, cut against the grain to achieve a tender bite. Lay out the slices onto a platter and pour over any juices that accumulated during the resting and cutting process. Serve.

Marinated Carne Asada for Chicken
2 large chicken breasts, trimmed and washed and patted dry with paper towls
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 Tbsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 small onion, peeled and sliced

Special Equipment: 1 (1-gallon sized) plastic freezer bag

Place the chicken into the plastic bag. Add the oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, chile powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic, and onions. Smoosh the air out and seal the bag. Using your hands, gently turn and massage the marinade into the chicken, coating it. Let stand for at least half an hour if grilling immediately. If not, refigerate up to 2 days before grilling, massaging the marinade twice a day.

To grill, preheat charcoal grill to medium-high (when you can hold your hands above it for 2-3 seconds). Add the chicken directly from the bag, taking off the garlic and onions pieces (they will burn during grilling). Cook until nicely roasted and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. (When the chicken pulls away easily from the grill that side is done.)  Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Cut against the grain to ensure moist cuts and place on serving platter. Top with any juices accumulated during resting and cutting. Serve.

Charcoal Grilled Onions
1 very large brown or sweet onion (Vidalia, Maui)
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Leaving the skin on the onion entirely, carefuly only cut off the very bottom of the stem and the very top and discard. Then leaving the skin on, slice the onion into 1/2 inch thick rounds. By leaving the skin on, you will ensure the onion rings stay together during grilling. Drizzle or brush each side of the onions with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Place on preheated medium-high grill (see above) and roast about 13 minutes until nicely charred on the rounds and tender. The outermost skin will naturally burn off during grilling, leaving completely edible onions rounds. In case some are still on, just remove those before serving.

You can leave grilled onions in whole rounds, chop up fine and add as a side or add to salsa, guacamole, etc. 

1 comment:

Christa Jeanne said...

I did the carne asada for chicken (subbing lime juice for the lemon juice) - oh my goodness, AMAZING!!!