Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Recipes Of The World: Mexico

Good evening everyone! It's day two on our trip around the (culinary) world. Tonight, I take our taste buds on a trip south of the border - to the land of tacos! (And much more, but for tonight's blog - it's the land of tacos) Mexico!

Now, anyone can make up ground beef tacos in the skillet - there are multiple taco seasonings out there on the market and tortilla shells are in no short supply. Rather than recreating something your average Taco Bell could serve you in 30 seconds, I wanted to try something a little less 'standard taco' and a little more 'gourmet taco'. Here's how I went about making the taco from fast food to evening feast.

The Recipe: Steak Tacos
Original Recipe Found In: Cook's Illustrated iPhone App

What You'll Need:

1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves
3 Medium Garlic Cloves
3 Medium Scallions, Roughly Chopped
1 Medium Jalapeno Chile (Optional)
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil Plus 2 Tablespoons
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
1 Flank Steak (1.5 to 1.75 Pounds)
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Corn Tortilla Tacos (Found in the refrigerator section as they have less preservatives)

Begin by placing the garlic, scallions, jalapeno (which is optional, if you don't like things too spicy, leave the jalapeno out - I chose to leave the little flame thrower out of this dish) and cumin in a food processor and pulsing in one second intervals until everything is finely chopped. Once everything is sufficiently shredded, add in 1/4 of the vegetable oil and pulse until your mixture resemble pesto.



Reserve 2 tablespoons of this paste and whisk in the tablespoon of lime juice. Set this mixture aside for later.

Trim the excess fat from your flank steak and slice it into four equally wide strips. (This size will vary depending on the width of your steak) Poke each piece of steak 10 to 12 times with a dinner fork (on each side) and cover with salt. Poking holes in the steak allows the salt to quickly access the interior of the steak, speeding up the tenderizing process. Place the steak in a large dish and with the remaining herb paste, coat the steak pieces evenly. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and allow to refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Marinading...with pizaz! 

After 30 minutes to an hour, scrape the herb paste off of the steak (this prevents it from burning in the skillet) and sprinkle with sugar (which causes caramelization) and black pepper.

Set a 12 inch, nonstick skillet on medium high heat and warm the remaining oil until slightly smoking. Place the steak in the skillet and cook each side until well browned, roughly 3 to 5 minutes per side. Be sure to stand the strips on their cut edge as well, to ensure all four sides are nicely browned. (You should also see some nice caramelization taking place on the surface of the steak. That's the sugar at work.) Check the temperature of the steak with an instant read thermometer, once you've reached 125 to 130 degrees, your steak is cooked to perfection.

Set the finished strips aside on a cutting board and allow them to rest for 2 to 5 minutes. Just like my roast recipe last week, you don't want to cut the steak immediately or you will lose all of the juices on the cutting board. (And make a big mess!)

Makes your mouth water doesn't it? 

Slice the steak strips (across the grain) into 1/8 thick pieces and toss them in the bowl with the reserved herb paste and lime juice mixture. Once all of the pieces are evenly coated, simply serve the steak on your warmed corn tortillas and enjoy! (Feel free to add onions or other veggies to top of the steak, customize as you see fit!)

The End Result:

Muy Beuno!

Half-hearted attempt at Spanish aside, tonight's dish was delicioso! (OK, I'm done now)

The steak was tender and juicy (and had a nice, sweet undertone due to the light sugar on top). The cilantro provided the classic 'taco flavoring' that is so well known (and so mass produced via 'flavor pouches' today). The scallions and garlic gave that ending kick that really made the whole dish.

I've never journeyed too far 'out there' in the culinary world to try other forms of tacos. In fact, most of my taco making has been limited to flavor pouches and ground beef. That made tonight's contest a easy one. These were simply the best tacos I've ever tried. Here's hoping you give them a shot yourself!

That's all we have for you this evening. Tomorrow, we conclude our 'recipes of the world' week with a collaborative effort between Maggie and I. It's actually a set of recipes that I wanted to cook myself, however, with this new (awful) schedule at work, I simply would not have time to do it alone. As such, Maggie is jumping in and taking care of 1/2 of the work. It should be a fun evening tomorrow with a delicious end result. Be sure to stop back tomorrow evening to see what exactly we're up to. Until then,


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