Spicy Burgers with Chipotle Mushroom-Onion Topping

In honor of National Burger Day (yup, that’s a thing) I’m sharing my recipe for spicy adobo burgers with a chipotle mushroom and onion topping. But first, I’d like to share a few helpful tips for grilling burgers:

  • DO NOT flip your burgers more than once. Multiple flips lead to overcooking.
  • DO NOT overcook the burgers. An overcooked burger is a dry, mealy, gray meat cake that looks vaguely like a hockey puck. Don’t eat hockey pucks. Those are for playing hockey.
  • DO NOT press down on the burgers. This squeezes all the juice (flavor) out, leaving you with a dry, overcooked (see last burger tip), flavorless meat wad . That’s gross.
  • FYI: If you claim to like your burger “well-done” I have some news for you: you don’t actually like burgers. Do the cook a favor and specify what you actually want so there’s no confusion. In other words, don’t ask for “a burger, well-done,” ask for “a dry, flavorless meat wad,” or “a hockey puck,” they’ll know what you mean.

wpid-img_20150528_185906.jpg

Burgers:

  • 1 lb ground beef (80-20 is best, remember, fat = flavor)
  • 1 tsp adobo seasoning
  • a pinch of salt and pepper

Onion Topping:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 ½ tbsp tomato paste
  • ⅓ cup beef broth
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo
  • salt and pepper

And so forth:

  • Beer (In this case, a Hop Valley Alphadelic IPA) for drinking while grilling… and while eating… and other times, too
  • Pretzel Rolls
  • Pepperoncini rings
  • Cheeses (I use a jalapeno jack and a medium cheddar)
  • Other toppings (My favorites are Sweet Baby Rays and Beaver Brand)

Step one: Open a beer.

Step one: complete.

Step one: complete.

To make the topping, slice the mushrooms and the onions. Preheat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and saute them, stirring frequently, until they’re lightly toasted, about 2-3 minutes. Add the sliced onions, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are just translucent, about another 2-3 minutes.

Puree the chipotle pepper (use more than one for a spicier topping) into the tomato paste and beef broth, and then add the resulting mixture to the pan. Stir to combine, allow to simmer, and then reduce the heat to low. Allow the mixture to continue cooking (stirring occasionally) as you cook the burgers.

To make the burgers, mix the listed ingredients in a bowl, and form ½-inch thick patties. I usually make 1/3 pound patties to serve my gluttonous desires (and because my wife won’t let me make half-pounders) but I would encourage four ¼ pound burgers of normal size.

I usually mix my own adobo seasoning (I really like this simple recipe), but a store-bought mix will do just fine!

Preheat the grill over medium-high heat, and either coat the grates with grill spray or brush them with oil.

Cook the burgers on the pre-heated grill for no more than three minutes on each side (for a total of six minutes). If you’re going to add cheese, do it just after the first flip, close the lid, and allow the cheese to melt.

Remove the burgers from the grill, and – much like a steak – allow them to rest so that those delicious juices have a moment to diffuse back into the meat. You don’t need to give them the 5-10 minutes needed for a steak, but maybe 2-3 minutes, which is (coincidentally) just enough time to slice and toast your buns.

Load the bun up with the topping, the burger, and whatever else you’d like, crack a new beer, and enjoy!

I will leave you with the immortal words of the burger-purist, Ron Swanson:

tumblr_lm74d0hHOe1qey5y8

 

Make Your Cookout Stand Out: 5 Tips for Hosting a Better Barbecue

Well folks, Memorial day is right around the corner, and what better way to spend the first long weekend of summer than in the back yard or on the beach, cookin’ up some memories (and some great food) with your friends and family?

DSC_0123

…like this paella for instance!

 

The team over at Man Crates recently reached out to me to see what kinds of things I would suggest that people make sure to have to create the perfect grilling experience. These guys specialize in gifts for dudes which come in wooden crates that need to be pried open with a crowbar. With that in mind, I’d like to share with you my five tips to make your cookout stand head and shoulders above the rest:

Tip #1: Grill Up Some Options

People want choices. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter if you spend hours marinating and smoking the perfect ribs, and then a few minutes grilling up some store-marinated chicken; people want to have the options and they remember if you provide it to them. Hey, even in the barbecuing stone-age they had hot dogs AND hamburgers.

Do your research ahead of time, plan out some options, and make a decision. A great grilling book, like Weber’s Way To Grill is essential in this case, especially if you’re not totally comfortable controlling the outdoor cookspace, or coming up with recipes on your own.

webers

Once you decide on your main dishes, make sure to tailor your sides to the theme. For example, were you to make my Sesame-Soy Marinated Flank Steak, it would stand to reason that you’d also whip up a batch of my Sesame Noodle Salad as a side dish. Likewise, a serving of Drunken Salmon and Rockfish Tacos would be incomplete without a helping of my Jicama and Grilled Corn Salsa or some Mango Guacamole.

Finally, make sure that you have a few different, delicious drink options. Thankfully (hopefully), the age of the “light beer” is finally waning, whilst the era of the full-flavored, sessionable brew comes into it’s own. With available craft beer like Day Hike and Trailhead ISA from Two Beers Brewing Co, Even Keel from Ballast Point, and even something more out there, like Hell or High Watermelon from 21st Amendment, its possible to have a happy, flavorful and hop-fueled day without having to take a nap in the early afternoon.

Behold, the wall of beer!

Behold, the wall of beer!

For those who don’t drink beer, a flavorful cocktail makes the perfect backyard bevvie. While I prefer the simple beverages (and barstool wisdom) provided in Old Man Drinks, my wife would probably encourage you to pick up a copy of Mrs Lilien’s Cocktail Swatchbook, which provides fun, easy to follow recipes for “classic cocktails with a twist.”

For the old men

For the old men

swatchbook

For everyone else

Tip #2: Provide Entertainment

You know what sucks? A party where there’s nothing to do. Don’t be that host.

Make sure that your friends have something to actually do; you can only watch a person grill for so long before you start contemplating the meaning of life, and you can only have someone watch you grill for so long before you begin contemplating the meaning of their death. Keep it light. Buy some games.

Since retailers in our kindergarten-country have for some (I’m guessing: legal) reason banned the sale of those badass metal-tipped lawn darts I played with in the 80’s, you’re going to need to come up with some other options.

For the non-athletic audience, I would recommend something low impact, mildly competitive and team-based, like Trac Ball, or Ladder Toss, both of which can be played with a beer in hand.

For the more athletically inclined,  would recommend a frisbee-based game, like KanJam (which you could buy on Amazon, or simply make by cutting holes in plastic trash cans), or my new favorite game: Spikeball. Either would provide you guests rounds and rounds of competitive fun.

spikeball-03.1440.806.s

 

Oh, and worst comes to worst, you can always grab a hammer and some nails for a rousing (and potentially life-threatening) game of stump, a drinking game that involves tossing a hammer above your head with one hand while holding a beer in the other. Don’t forget your steel-toed boots.

Not for the uncoordinated or the over-inebriated

Not for the uncoordinated or the over-inebriated

Tip #3: Make Sweet Music

No one wants to hear you talk for an entire afternoon, so make sure that your guests have something to listen to, and a way to listen to it. I don’t mean that you should go out and buy some fancy speaker system (although if you did, I would definitely consider starting with a few SONOS Play:1 speakers and building from there), and I certainly wouldn’t recommend handing out earbuds to your guests. I would, however, encourage you to get a simple portable speaker, like the Rugged Rukus, which is solar-powered, bluetooth-ready, and loud enough to annoy the neighbors. As an added bonus, you could throw on some early Wu-Tang, and repeatedly tell people to “Bring the Motha-F***** Rukus.”

Bring the Motha-F***** Rukus

Bring the Motha-F***** Rukus

Of course, you can pick whatever type of music you want, but I’ve always found that a nice ‘default’ station that pleases most listeners is Pandora’s ‘Laid Back Beach Music’. It’s free and easy to listen to, unless you happen to hate Jack Johnson, in which case you should pick a different station.

Tip #4: Have The Required Equipment

If you’re going to serve food and drinks to a yard full of people, you’re going to want to make sure that people have things to eat off of and drink out of. You DO NOT want to be doing dishes for the three days following your party because you forgot to buy paper plates and plastic cups. It’s bad for the environment, but it’s good for your sanity. Make a choice.

That part is simple. Pick a theme, buy plates, cups, napkins, tableware, decorations, etc. To be honest, that’s not really my department. I advise you to bring your significant other to Target and set them loose.

There are some grilling mainstays that I don’t think you should do without.

First, have a good grill brush. The best one I’ve found is the Tuff-Built Industrial Grade Grill Brush. I’ve had mine for two years. I use it year-round. I’ve scrubbed every outward-facing surface of my grill with this thing, and it’s still holding tough. Get one. They’re awesome.

If you want the perfect grill-marks on your meats, I’ve recently found that GrillGrates raised rails work REALLY well. They’re easy to use, easy to clean and provide a perfectly even cook.

So THAT'S how they get those perfect lines!

So THAT’S how they get those perfect lines!

Finally, make sure you have a useful, versatile knife that’s easy to use and easy to open, especially with one hand. Most importantly, make sure it opens beer bottles. In other words, you want a Leatherman Crater. I know, I know; I could be suggesting any number of barbecue cooking utensils, expensive knives or novelty bottle openers to add to your drawers full of kitchen junk, but this wonderful little tool is by far the best and most useful pocket knife I’ve come across. I love these so much that I gave them to my groomsmen as gifts before my wedding. Get one. Seriously.

boring stock knife photo

boring stock knife photo

Tip #5: Party Favors

Finally, you want your guests to remember your gathering, so give them something useful that they can take away with them. In my experience, the best useful party favor were the custom koozies that my wife had made up over at CustomInk. They’re useful, fun, and give your guests a reason to grab another beer (as if they needed one).

DSC_0570

I’m outdoorsy in that I like drinking at the cabin

I hope these tips were helpful! Enjoy the grilling season, and happy Memorial Day!

 

Sesame-Soy Flank Steak with Cilantro-Sesame Garnish

This recipe is designed to make delicious, juicy, flank steak. The flavors are Asian-inspired, and heavily rely on the use of sesame and soy (hence: the name of the recipe). I served this steak – with a simple garnish of cilantro and sesame seeds (instructions below) – beside a generous helping of Patti’s sesame noodle salad (click the link for the recipe), and some grilled zucchini spears (also marinated in a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil).

Are you sensing a theme?

Faithfully following this recipe should yield the following deliciousness:

wpid-img_20150517_190200.jpg

To quote Jurassic Park: “Look at all the blood!”

 

Marinade:

  • 4-lb flank steak
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup sake
  • 1 shallot – diced
  • 2 inches ginger root – diced
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • 3 green onions – rough chopped
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Garnish:

  • 1/4 cup toasted Sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Prepare all marinade ingredients, and mix them together.

Remove the steak from it’s packaging, and score each side four or five times.

Scoring a steak is easy. Using a sharp knife, lightly cut against the grain of the meat. Apply just enough pressure to make a shallow slices in the flesh. This process allows for better diffusion of the marinade, and a more uniform cook on your steak!

Season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper, and place it in a large ziploc bag or large shallow dish, and pour the mixed marinade on top. I prefer a plastic bag for this step, because it makes it easier to squish the marinade around, to make sure that the steak is completely covered.

Marinate the steak for at least 30 minutes (but no more than a few hours) before grilling.

Preheat your grill over medium-high heat, and grill the steak for 5-6 minutes per side.

Allow the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving, preferably in a conspicuous location, which will not only allow the juices to uniformly diffuse through the cut of meat (it’s science, here’s a good explanation), it will also cause the hungry diners to begin salivating like Pavlov’s dogs.

The 10 minutes of resting time is perfect for grilling up some veggies to serve on the side for a little color and the perception of health.

Slice the steak against the grain. A properly cooked and rested flank steak should slice easily, and have a succulent juiciness to the point where it should nearly melt in your mouth.

The other nice thing about this cut of meat is that a properly cooked flank steak will cater to a range of preferences regarding the cook of the meat. The tapered nature of the cut means that the outer edges will be more well-cooked (but still juicy), while the thicker, inner-portion will be nice and bloody (like a steak should be).

For the garnish, chop the cilantro, and then toss it into the sesame seeds. Using a pestle, muddler or some other utensil appropriate for crushing things, mash together the seeds and cilantro leaves. Sprinkle the garnish atop the sliced steak for a savory addition.

Slice, consume and enjoy!

wpid-img_20150517_193253.jpg

 

Beer-steamed Manila Clams in Fresh Herb Broth

Clams seem to be one of those ingredients that people either take very seriously, or completely ignore. As a child, I remember being absolutely revolted at the sight of My parents and their friends slurping up mollusks  during our annual New England  lobster and clam bake. My young mind simply could not comprehend the apparent desire to lever gritty boogers from their gaping shells and choke them down after slopping them around in melted butter.
Unfortunately, it took me year to learn how wrong I was. Clams are delicious. In fact, thinking about them right now is making my mouth water.
It’s more than fair to say that my tastes have changed since then. Having moved from Massachusetts to Washington, where you don’t find littlenecks (the Eastcoast clambake staple), I’ve grown to love the West coast version: the manila clam. Manilas, which are actually a Japanese varietal, are characteristically smaller than quahogs, and I personally think that they’re sweeter and are a bit more firm.
While the flavor of the manila clam is strong, and can certainly stand out on its own, I find that these little boogers are greatly enhanced when cooked with other strong but complementary to ingredients, like butter, beer and fresh herbs.
I came up with the following recipe after finding live manila clams at the market for $5.49 a pound, a price I decided was too tempting to pass up.

wpid-img_20150508_182051.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds manila clams – cleaned
  • 1 medium white onion – chopped
  • 1 large shallot – chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 12 oz. beer of your choice
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley – chopped (reserve a pinch for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil – chopped (reserve a pinch for garnish)
  • Salt and pepper

Prepare all ingredients as listed.
In a large pot (I use my trusty Le Creuset crock pot) heat the butter and oil together over medium heat.
Saute the onions and shallots for 3-4 minutes, and then add the garlic and reduce the heat to mid-low. Slowly cook the onions, shallots and garlic, stirring frequently, until they’re a nice, light brown. This might take four or five minutes over the reduced heat, so be patient.
Add the clams and herbs, season the mixture with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
Pour in the beer, cover the pot (this is important to steam the clams) and return the heat to medium or mid-high.
Beer note: I used a bottle of Pacifico for this step, because it was the only beer in the refrigerator that I could justify cooking with: Fremont IPA is for drinking, not for cooking.
It will take a few minutes for the pot to get back up to temp after adding the cold beer, but once it does you should allow it to steam happily away until the clams pop open. This process might take 8-10 minutes or so, so watch the clams closely, and take them off the heat once they’ve opened up.
Serve them up, with the broth and some good bread for dipping, in a large bowl or platter so everyone can dig in to their heart’s content.
Oh, and don’t forget the bowl for the empty shells, there will be a lot of them!

Chipotle Mango Guacamole! (A Recipe)

Hey!

Have you ever wondered why your week sucks? Well, it’s probably because you’re not making this tasty recipe to snack on!

This zesty dip is inspired by flavor, and my basic recipe for guacamole. It is delicious and healthy, and if you make it, your friends and family will think that you’re a culinary prodigy… unless they’re allergic to one of the ingredients, then they’ll think you’re trying to poison them.

Ingredients:

  • 3 avocados – peeled and pitted
  • 2 mangoes – peeled and diced
  • 1 shallot – finely diced
  • 3/4 cup grape tomatoes – sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro – finely chopped or torn
  • 2 cloves garlic – peeled and minced
  • 1 lime – juiced
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo – minced
  • salt and pepper (just a pinch of each)

Prepare all the ingredients as listed.

Place all the ingredients in a bowl.

Fold all the ingredients together until they’re well-combined.

Eat this by scooping up globs of it with tortilla chips, placing them in your mouth, chewing and swallowing.

Enjoy!

wpid-img_20150505_185407.jpg

What is Cinco de Mayo? A History Lesson and a Salsa Recipe

I just typed “Cinco de Mayo” into google, hit “search” and clicked on “images”. This was the first thing that I saw:

cinco-de-mayo

It’s a promo banner from a website for the Turismo Tavern, a small bar in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. The website advertises “Marguerita [sic] and Sangria specials” for the duration of the day, and even provides a sentence-long explanation of the holiday itself; “Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the Mexican defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla.”

I found that impressive. Most people have no idea what Cinco de Mayo actually is, and in fact, the holiday has become as non-descript as the banner above. Rather than a genuine holiday reflecting the historical significance of the fifth of May, it’s mutated into a vaguely-defined celebration of Mexican heritage which is celebrated largely in America. For most, the day is simply an excuse to binge on Corona and Jose Cuervo, much in the same way St. Paddy’s Day instigates the consumption of Guiness and Jameson.

Another similarity between Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day is that the historical reasoning – in both cases – has been largely forgotten. As a history teacher, I feel that I would be doing you a disservice to not attempt to rectify this issue… so here’s what you should know:

First, Mexican Independence Day is actually September 16. It is also known as “Grito de Dolores” or the “Call of Dolores”, and it celebrates the beginning  of the Mexican war for independence from Spain. The “cry” for independence was made in the town of Dolores in 1810, though it was not officially achieved until 1821.

As briefly explained in the blurb above, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla. But let’s go back to Mexican independence.

The period directly following independence from Spain was characterized by internal and external conflict. While independence was gained, the newly formed Mexican state was never a unified political entity as was the United States following the American War for Independence. As a result, Mexican residents lived in a constant state of political shifts, upheavals and revolutions. At the same time, Spain was angry that they lost their large American territory, and tried to violently retake it between 1821 and 1829. Despite sectionalism and continued turmoil, General Santa Anna rose to power (technically he was elected as president) in 1832. His inconsistent rule led to further political upheaval, and eventually the Texas revolution.

For years, the Mexican government attempted to incentivize the settlement of Texas by providing large spreads of land for relatively little money. This caused more than 20,000 Americans to move into this less-than-desirable territory at an alarming rate, though most – in typical American fashion – refused to follow the two main concessions of Texan land ownership: to convert to Catholicism and to not bring slaves into the territory. The centralized Mexican government attempted to stem the Americanization of the territory in the early 1830’s by eliminating the incentives and placing troops on the Northern border between Texas and the established states, which (as you can imagine) caused further violence. American settlers started the Texas Revolution, a bid for independence, to which the Mexican government (i.e. the president turned dictator Santa Anna) responded with a resounding “Fuck that! (subtext: this is a good way to unify my divided Mexican people.”  As a result Mexican troops clashed with a standing Texan army under the leadership of Sam Houston. A series of conflicts (including the Alamo) led to the capture of Santa Anna who, in exchange for his freedom, agreed to withdraw his forces to the South of the Rio Grande. Texas became a free-floating territory until it was annexed as a state in 1845, which caused the Mexican-American War.

At that point, this unnecessary conflict (also known as the Invasion of Mexico) was inevitable. The Mexican government had threatened war if the US annexed Texas. At the same time, President Polk’s expansionist spirit and overall aggression ignited the spark of war. In 1846, Mexico declared a “defensive war” against America, and despite the leadership of General Santa Anna, by 1848 the United states had taken about 900,000 square miles of territory from their defeated southern neighbor, which extended the American territory all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

The years following Mexican defeat at the hands of the American forces is characterized by corruption, and further political unrest. A reinstated president Santa Anna sold tracts of land to the American government and squandered the majority of the money, and then went into exile (again) in 1855. The following years saw numerous attempts at political reform, which eventually led to a civil war – known as the War of Reform – waged between conservative hard-liners and liberal revolutionaries who believed that the Catholic church held too much political power.

So count it up. Over a period of about 40 years, the Mexican people were involved (mostly unwillingly) in four different conflicts: the war for independence, the Texas Revolution, the Mexican-American War and finally the War of Reform. This left the people largely disheartened, and – more importantly for our story – the government incredibly in debt.

As with most newly-formed, independent, post-imperialist countries, their debt was mostly owed to the governments of historically-imperialistic nations, in this case the governments of America, France, Spain and Britain. Though some recompense had been made between Mexico and America by that point, in 1861, the three European powers united in a pact to attempt to recover their debt from what they perceived to be a failing nation. Napoleon III, the French Emperor, seized the opportunity for expansion, and committed forces to the occupation of Mexico in the hopes of taking control of their natural resources and using the country as a foreign base of operations. Napoleon III installed Maximilian Ferdinand, a member of the Hapsburg dynasty, as the Emperor of Mexico. Though this seems like a random happening, it was a necessary political maneuver on the part of Napoleon to placate the Roman-Catholic Church, which had supported the French incursion.

You may be thinking, “Where the hell is America in all this? Why aren’t they fighting the French? Why aren’t you just writing about food?” It’s simple really. The Americans were fighting each other. Between 1861 and 1865, the good ol’ US of A was divided North-to-South in what we know as the Civil War. So Washington was a little preoccupied to worry about their neighbor to the south. Actually, it wasn’t until the Confederate government reached out to the French in a bid for assistance that the Americans gave it a second thought.

As would any threatened peoples, the Mexicans rallied together in 1861 to resist invasion by the French armed forces, which were thought to be the best equipped and prepared in the world. On the fifth of May, 1862, a French force attacked the city of Puebla, a small (but important) city in Southern Mexico. In a surprising turn of events, the French forces were defeated by the Mexican resistance, and were forced to withdraw from the city. Though this did not significantly alter the greater French conquest of the country, the victory was used as a means of unifying the Mexican people in their fight against the French. May 5th – Cinco de Mayo – was declared a national holiday in order to celebrate the memory of this decisive victory.

While it was celebrated in Mexico, it was celebrated to an even greater extent by Mexican-Americans who saw it as a decisive victory against oppression. Taken in the context of the American Civil-War, the victory at Puebla has even been seen as a victory for abolition, as it may have stalled the French long enough for the Union army to rally against the Confederacy and keep Napoleon from influencing the outcome of the American Civil War.

Since the 1860’s, Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated in  various ways in as many places, and as with many holidays, the true meaning was eventually lost in the haze of celebration itself. As the Mexican and Mexican-American identities continued to shift, so did the meaning of Cinco de Mayo. By the 1900’s the holiday had become a general Mexican-American celebration of heritage, while it was largely forgotten as a decisive victory against French oppression.

Eventually the US imposed sanctions on the French, who – under threat of war – were forced to withdraw their influence from Mexico. The conflicts of the 1860’s were overshadowed by the more political turmoil and upheaval, and the meaning of Cinco de Mayo was lost to history.

Now that you know all that, here’s my favorite salsa recipe to help you celebrate.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and rough chopped
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 large (28 oz or so) can whole or diced tomatoes (use fire-roasted or “Mexican style” for an extra boost
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender.

Blend.

Consume, preferably with tortilla chips, as you revel in your new-found knowledge.

My awesome salsa, served with some equally awesome nachos.

My awesome salsa, served with some equally awesome nachos.

Chipotle Flank Steak Tacos

There’s no random story here, just a tasty recipe for some spicy flank steak tacos. This could be good recipe for Cinco de Mayo – you might want to bookmark this one for next week.

wpid-wp-1430276578046.jpeg

Flank Steak Marinade:

  • Juice of 5 limes
  • ¼ cup agave
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

Peppers and Onions

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp chipotle chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp coriander

 

Other (Equally Important) Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lb. flank steak
  • Tortillas
  • Cotija cheese
  • fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges for serving

 

Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade, except the cilantro, in a food processor or blender. Puree the ingredients until they are well-combined. Remove the steak from it’s packaging, and place it in a large ziploc bag or a large bowl. Pour the marinade and the chopped cilantro into the bag or bowl, and flip the steak until it is coated with both the liquid and the fresh herbs. Allow the steak to marinate for at least 30 minutes, but not more than an hour or so.

 

Preheat the grill over medium-high heat.

 

In the meantime, slice the peppers and onions to your desired thickness, toss them with the oil and spices, and let them sit for a bit. Trust me, it’ll make ‘em more delicious. I prefer a really thin slice on veggies like this, so I have a fine-mesh grill basket that allows me to cook them without worrying about them falling through the grates. If that is a concern for you, you can always cut the veggies into larger pieces, or saute them on the stove instead of the grill.

 

Grill the steak to your desired doneness, which if you’re a human with taste buds and common sense, should be a juicy, succulent, mid-rare at the very most. Unless – of course – you enjoy wasting the money that you spent on steak. In order to reach a healthy mid-rare, the steak should take no more than 4 minutes per side if grilled on medium-high.

 

Crank the heat to high, and grill the peppers and onions, either directly on the grill or in a grill basket. Turn the veggies frequently to avoid burning them, a little char adds flavor but anything more turns your garnish into floppy, moderately-spiced charcoal. Cook the onions to your desired doneness, which for me takes about 4-5 minutes on the grill. Coincidentally that’s about the amount of time that you should be letting the steak rest after removing it from the grill.

 

Slice the steak – very thin – against the grain. Not paper thin, just thin. Don’t say “paper thin,” it’s annoying.

 

Build each taco on a tortilla with some thin-sliced steak, a scoop of peppers and onions, some crumbled cotija cheese, a pinch of fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.


Enjoy!