Things I really, really, really want for my kitchen but can’t seem to get it together to get: a mandoline and an old-fashioned citrus juicer. Not a new age-y juicer for carrots and greens and like 18 apples per tall glass of raw food cleansing juice…those things are ridiculous. It’s not that squeezing a half of a lime is hard, it’s that I’m OBSESSED with getting every.last.bit.of.juice. out of the damn thing. So I squeeze and I scrape and I moosh around until I’m convinced that there isn’t a single drop left. I just think a citrus juicer might do a speedier job and be just as thorough. Then again… would a new age-y juicer do the best job?!? Doesn’t matter. I can’t back down on my initial position now.
The night before, I made basically the same thing as this, except without the marinade, and using hanger steak. I really wish I’d saved that steak for this blog post. It’s a more interesting cut, and more typical for carne asada. I rode my bike to the grocery store the next morning, hoping I’d find some, but no luck – it’s not usually there anyway. An on-sale strip steak did just fine. Speaking of that grocery store, the past week they had avocados on sale for 3 for $1. I got so many. I think I had like 20 at one point. Or 21, which I guess is more likely. I would think up excuses to go there just to be like “oh, well I’m here, I might as well get some more avocados!…” I made guacamole with I think like 5 or 6 of them for dinner and it was gone by the next afternoon. Mostly singlehandedly. That’s a lot of avocados to eat in the span of less than a day. I impress myself sometimes. And again, woulda been nice to have that citrus juicer.
You know what else I can eat a lot of? (This is embarrassing, I think every post I write talks about how much of x I can eat.) Caramelized onions. I can’t even fathom eating an entire onion raw… but slow cook it down to a mushy sweet state and one onion’s worth looks like child’s play. I once ate probably a whole head of roasted garlic. It was a nightmare for like the next two days. BAD IDEA. Simply amazing, the smells I produced. Wow, gross.
These cuminy caramelized onions are particularly good. They’re not overtly Mexican, until you couple them with the serrano pepper laced steak where they act as a really nice earthy sweet counterbalance to the spicy marinade. I also kind of like how this is a nice late-winter dish in that the onions seem nice and cold weathery, and the grilled steak is, well hopefully grilled outside. Oh wait, is your weather not 70 degrees? Oh, I’m sorry! (I shouldn’t gloat too much, it’s supposed to plummet again in a couple days.) But really, how wonderful. That’s why I grilled. I would have been an idiot if I hadn’t. And even if it’s not nice enough to grill outside, grilling inside still keeps this feeling like it’s a glimpse into the weather future.
carne asada brava
(not really) adapted from Rick Bayless
You can use whatever cut of grill-able beef you want. Like I said, a thin cut is the usual – hanger, skirt, flank, or flap. If you’re feeling less, uh, brava, then you can lower the number of serranos, or you can seed a couple, or use two serranos and an anaheim or something. This marinade provides enough for more than the one lousy steak I made.
4 serrano peppers, stemmed
6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
bone-in New York strip steak
1. In a dry skillet over medium high heat, toast the peppers and garlic, turning occasionally. Remove the peppers after about 10 minutes, when most of their skin is blackened and blistered. Remove the garlic after another 5 minutes or so, when it’s got nice blackened patches.
2. Remove the skin from the garlic and put in a food processor, along with the peppers, fat, lime juice, and salt. Purée until smooth, then add to a bowl or ziplock bag along with the steak. Marinate for at least one hour.
3. When you’re ready to grill the steak, remove from the fridge and let stand for about 30 minutes. Preheat the grill to high heat.
2 tablespoons bacon fat
2 large yellow onions, cut in half lengthwise then thinly sliced crosswise
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. Heat fat in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add onions and stir occasionally for about 45 minutes to an hour. You also may want to turn down the heat to low about halfway through if you’re noticing that the onions are getting a little unevenly dark.
2. When the onions are sufficiently dark brown and caramelized, add in the garlic, cumin, and salt. Stir around for several minutes.
Serve the steak with a big helping of the onions and top with cilantro. Some sort of salsa would be wonderful, as would my addictive favorite…griddled queso fresco. Don’t try it, you’ll eat so much cheese.
Bonus cat pictures: