Easy carne asada recipes?
February 3, 2010 8:23 AM   Subscribe

I need a carne asada recipe that's easy and stove-top friendly.

As an Arizonan exiled in Wisconsin, I find myself suffering from a lack of good and/or accesible carne asada. My problem is that I am not a cook but I am very lazy.

A couple other limitations:
- no outdoor grill
- no nearby mexican grocer
- a grocery store with no butcher, but otherwise okay
- impatience
- general ignorance about cooking
- feeding me alone

what I do have:
- an electric stove and various standard pans including a cast iron skllet
- small Hispanic food section at grocery store

I prefer ease over authenticity, all else being equal.

I've googled a few recipes but there is a wide range of styles. For example--do I cook the steak whole or pre-slice? Do I marinade and with what and for how long? What cut of steak is suitable and carried in the typical selection of pre-cut meats?
posted by mullacc to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Google Ron Paul Rick Bayless Carne Asada and change the grilling to dry frying it in a smoking hot cast iron skillet.

Then go buy the Diane Kennedy and Rick Bayless cookbooks. And next time you are in Chicago buy everything you need.

I might sub the ancho called for w/ Chipotle to get some smoke flavor. Or barring that, and may god have mercy on my sould, a drop of liquid smoke if the chile selection is that poor.
posted by JPD at 8:34 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

ETA : Essential - turn on all exhaust fans, open all windows. The smoke will be an irritant. It will be worth it.
posted by JPD at 8:39 AM on February 3, 2010

Most of the best asada I've had from the carnicerias here in Los Angeles was marinated in, I kid you not, Sunny Delight along with the usual onion, cilantro, chile, etc. - I don't have an exact recipe, but you could improvise and I'm sure it would be tasty. I'd marinate overnight.

I've grilled up steak from my local carniceria indoors on a grill pan like this one. You'll want to open all the windows and turn on all the fans, as mentioned above. And expect the kitchen (or if you're me and you live in a studio, your entire home) to smell like steak for several days following.

Mmmmm. Steak.
posted by chez shoes at 8:49 AM on February 3, 2010

The Sunny D makes sense because its cheap "citrus" with lots of sugar to carmelize on the grill. Not saying I would use it, but its not as goofy as it sounds.
posted by JPD at 8:50 AM on February 3, 2010

Mercado Guanajuato is on the corner of Midvale and Nakoma. if you're near campus just hop on the 19 bus and get off at Midvale. They'll have everything you need, even the meat.
posted by Floydd at 9:14 AM on February 3, 2010

Response by poster: Sunny D isn't surprising at all--I've definitely seen that before.

Floydd: Thanks for the tip. I'll check that place out for sure, but I'm not going to go out of my way if I want to make this dish regularly. I walk by a mainstream grocery store every day, so I want to get by with what I can get there.
posted by mullacc at 9:44 AM on February 3, 2010

While the cast iron skillet would work, you might also try a very underutilized kitchen tool that you probably have: The broiler in your oven. If I was using flank steak--which should be readily available at your grocer--I would broil about 5-6min per side.

The typical ingredients for carne asada are all readily available at the grocery store--steak, lime, garlic, etc . . . no reason this should require a trip to a specialty store.

I second the tip about the Rick Bayless books, but if you're uncomfortable in the kitchen you might feel tripped up by some of the ingredients. Here's his recipe. Here's one that's even simpler.
posted by donovan at 11:21 AM on February 3, 2010

I recommend broiling on a pan in your oven with a slotted pan to keep the drippings away from the meat. A cast iron grill pan on the stove top would be good too. Either must be screaming hot. Carne Asada is supposed to be well done, then sliced.

aqua negra (equal parts soy sauce and pineapple juice)

Before broiling, season liberally with salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne, and ground cumin.

Send me some. mmmmmmmm
posted by reverend cuttle at 12:03 PM on February 3, 2010

Response by poster: I've seen some recipes where the steak is sliced up before being marinaded and cooked. Pros/cons of that?

I'm pretty sure the all-night taquerias in Phoenix cook pre-cubed carne asada. Is it likely they are using lower-quality beef cubes meant for stew?
posted by mullacc at 12:20 PM on February 3, 2010

Another vote for the broiling pan and oven broiler. It's a good way to approximate grilling with a conventional over/stovetop.

Personally, I cop out and buy the pre-marinated carne asada from Trader Joe's. It's not bad and definitely is easy to prepare.
posted by camcgee at 2:26 PM on February 3, 2010

the up/downs of marinating and grilling your skirt steak "pre-cut" is that you have more surface area for flavor penetration, and more surface area for carmelization. On the other hand, you'll lose a lot of the juice/fat that would normally be retained in a whole piece of meat. Plus flipping a solid steak is much easier than turning 35 little strips.

Personally,I avoid pre-seasoned asada packages at the store. They taste WAY too artificial and overseasoned to me. Trader Joe's might be an exception, but I've never tried theirs.
posted by reverend cuttle at 3:53 PM on February 3, 2010

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