Mexicans are unabashed meat-eaters, and prepare meats in a creative and enticing ways, including marinated steaks, sizzling fajitas, flavor-packed burritos and tacos stuffed with meats cooked over mesquite coals.
There are paper-thin slices of pork, beef and lamb marinated in abodo (red chile marinade); rich, meaty stews; succulent ribs and roasts; spicy sausages; meats wrapped and cooked in banana leaves; and many more ways to experience the variety of meats cooked Mexican style.
The method of cutting meat is different in Mexico than it is in the United States. Most of the meats are cut with the grain and are much thinner; consequently, the meats are cooked in less time. Meats are also often coated with traditional regional seasoning pastes for extra flavor.
The word "asada" refers to meat that is grilled over coals or on a griddle, or is broiled. However prepared, it is a very popular way for Mexicans to eat meat.
In this recipe, a tequila marinade gives a lively flavor to the grilled steak. Maggi seasoning extract, used to enhance flavor in the same way as a Worcestershire sauce, is available in most supermarkets. Topping it off with pickled red onions adds to the festive appearance. If the weather isn't right for outdoor grilling, the steak can be cooked indoors on a stovetop grill pan.
Tequila-Lime Flank Steak
2 beef flank steaks (each about 11Ú2 pounds)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1Ú2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1Ú3 cup tequila
3 T. fresh lime juice
1 T. honey
1Ú2 teaspoon Maggi seasoning extract or Worcestershire sauce
3 T. vegetable oil plus extra for the grill
1Ú2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Prepare the onions (see recipe below). Then trim the steaks of excess fat and silver skin. Score the steaks by making cuts about a half-inch deep and 2 inches apart diagonally across the meat in two different directions to make a diamond pattern on both sides. Rub the meat all over with garlic and pepper. Place the steaks in a large, shallow, glass baking dish.
In a bowl, whisk together the tequila, lime juice, honey, Maggi and oil. Drizzle two tablespoons of the marinade on each steak and turn them to coat. Reserve the remaining marinade. Cover and refrigerate the meat for about 2 hours, or up to 8 hours.
Remove the meat from the refrigerator about 1 hour before cooking. Have ready a hot outdoor grill or heat a stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat. Pat the meat dry with paper towels, and season with salt just before grilling. Brush lightly with oil.
Grill the steaks on a hot, greased grill over high heat or in the grill pan on medium-high heat, turning to brown the meat on both sides, 8-12 minutes total for medium-rare, depending on the thickness of the meat (adjust cook time for doneness). Brush the steaks with the reserved marinade for the last 3 minutes of cooking.
Remove the steaks to a cutting board and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut across the grain into thin slices. Serve with pickled red onions scattered over the meat. Makes 6 servings
Red Pickled Onions
3 T. olive oil
1 large red onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced.
1Ú2 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican variety preferred), crumbled
11Ú2 T. red wine vinegar
1Ú2 teaspoon vinegar
1Ú2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1Ú8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the oregano and the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is barely tender, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Stir in the vinegar and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight. Serve the onions at room temperature, or sizzle them briefly in a hot skillet just before serving. Makes about one cup
• Molly Gingell is the owner of Molly's Gourmet Catering, takeout and cooking school at 220 W. John St. in Carson City.
If You Go
What: Cooking classes with cookbook author Marge Poore, a culinary tour director specializing in Mexican and Spanish cuisine
When: 6:30 p.m. July 20 and 21
Where: Molly's Gourmet Catering, take-out and cooking school, 220 W. John St.