Saturday, September 14, 2013

Carne Asada tacos and Pico de Gallo

Thin sliced tri tip and fresh tomatoes? Sounds like a great start for some carne asada tacos with fresh salsa on top. I have three huge red, vine-ripened tomatoes from the SLO Veg box that will be the basis for the Pico de Gallo salsa that we love. After taking inventory in the frig, I need a nice onion, so I will stop at the Mexican market down the street, and also pick up some fresh corn tortillas. I already have cilantro and sweet bell peppers, as well as a nice green bell pepper, so I think I am set for the salsa. I guess I'd better pick up some meat, too, or else we might have fish tacos...hummmmm? Decisions, decisions! I think I will go for the beef tonight. I just saw some thin-sliced tri-tip in the meat counter and I have some orange juice at home. Actually a Mexican cook told me to use Sunny Delight, that sweet orange juice drink for kids. That makes a great carne asada marinade with a little oil, peppers, onions and cilantro thrown in, and its good for a fish marinade as well. Here is another marinade I found for carne asade from Simply Recipes that uses an oil and vinegar base with a little sugar thrown in for sweetness. I mix the marinade, put the meat into a ziplock baggie, and pour the marinade into the bag. That goes into a dish to prevent accidental spills and marinates in the frig for 2-4 hours for meat (1/2 hour for fish) before grilling.

3 large ripe tomatoes, or a mixture of cherry tomatoes
and a large tomato, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 white, yellow or red onion, diced
1 jalanpeno, serrano or sweet red peppers, diced fine
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup canola oil
Generous splash of lime juice
salt and pepper to taste


Also on the Simply Recipes site is directions for Pico de Gallo, or fresh tomato salsa. This recipe calls for jalapeno and serrano chilis and red onion, but I plan to use what I have in the frig right now, which includes sweet red and yellow peppers, green bell peppers, white onions, leeks, cherry tomatoes and red beefsteak tomatoes. We got two baskets of cherry tomatoes in the box last week, one I think was plum cherry tomatoes and the others were more orange colored cherry tomatoes. I think a mixture of the two will give my salsa some nice color variety. I am adding the leek just because I have three big leeks in the frig right now and I need to use it somehow. Same for the sweet peppers: I bought a large bag of them and they need to be eaten. I think that is how some recipes are developed: you use what you have and make it all work. I diced up all my vegetables which filled up my mixing bowl, about 4 cups worth of vegies, added a generous handful of chopped cilantro, and poured in about a quarter cup of oil and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. I would normally use lime juice, but I forgot to get limes and I don't have any bottled juice in the pantry. (Put it on the list for next time!) Then I added about a teaspoon of coarse sea salt and another teaspoon of black pepper. 

The meat is grilled just until a crust forms, then sliced into strips for the tacos.
After the meat marinated for a few hours and just after Lee arrived home for dinner, I began heating the corn tortillas on the flat top grill. I have a styrofoam tortilla warmer that keeps the tortillas warm and also makes them a little softer than they are just coming off the grill. I line it with paper towels that I can toss out later because I don't need to wash the styrofoam container very often. After I had enough tortillas heated for the two of us, I began grilling the meat. The marinade is poured off and the meat goes onto the grill for about 3-4 minutes per side. I added a little salt and pepper and some fajita season mix that I had in the pantry to one side after it was on the grill. Then it comes off and gets sliced into strips, perfect for adding to the tacos.

I paired the tacos with a can of refried beans, heated through, and some white rice seasoned with chicken broth and turmeric, which gives it a nice golden color and a flavorful yet mild spice taste. 

1-1/2 pounds of thin sliced flank, flap or tri-tip steak
1 cup orange juice or Sunny Delight
1/2 cup canola oil
a few slices of onion and green peppers
a handful of chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
Place the meat into a large ziplock baggie. Mix up the marinade ingredients and pour over the meat. Put baggie into a dish to prevent spillage and place in the frig for 2-4 hours. Drain off marinade and grill meat for 3-4 minutes per side. Slice and serve in heated taco shells.

Serving dinner on the coffee table.
Informal and cozy dinner for me and my hubby.
Tonight's dinner was served on the coffee table. I put our the platter of meat, a bowl of cheese and another bowl of salsa, plus the tortillas in their warmer. I made us each a red beer (tomato juice and beer with a splash each of lemon juice and worchestershire sauce and a few drops of Tabasco sauce, plus salt on top), and we sat down to eat and visit and watch a movie after a long, long work week. Cheers!


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