By PAUL SIDORIAK
I went to the market to find a skirt steak for a sunny Sunday dinner. I was in the mood for intense flavor, robust seasoning, and high heat and figured that the hard working muscle from the animal’s core would do the trick.
The local, independent grocery store I prefer to shop at does not often carry a skirt steak, so I decided to try the nearby Safeway store hoping they would have a better selection. Fortunately for me, I had no such luck. Yes, Safeway did have a wide variety of grill-ables that would have sufficed, but no skirt steak.
My fallback, Plan B was to find a nice beef tri-tip which also meets my prerequisites but it also not to be found. I went into panic mode and started rifling through the remaining packages for anything that could salvage my concept of dinner. In reality, meat was just an excuse for me to buy avocados and justify making guacamole, so at this point, anything that worked well with avocado would suffice.
I ended up finding a pre-marinaded beef cut labeled simply as “carne asada”. I read the ingredients and seasonings and decided to take a chance. The mysterious carne asada claimed to be from the sirloin flap which I had previously never heard of. Wikipedia tells me that it consists of the obliquus internus abdominis muscle from the bottom sirloin butt which means little to me other than it comes from the really good tasting part of the cow.
When I unpacked the meat, it turned out that what I had originally thought was a roast, unraveled into large, thin slices. The peppery seasoning looked and smelled fantastic and I let it come up to room temperature as my grill was heating up.
I slowly roasted some bell peppers and sweet onion over a raised grate until the sweet flavors intensified. When they were about ready, I finished them quickly with a charring sear for some color and additional flavor. My grill had stabilized at around 500 degrees and the cast-iron grate was ready for some hot and fast grilling.
For 90 seconds, I let the thin meat sizzle over the smoky lump charcoal and then turned it 45 degrees for some dramatic grill marks. Without flipping, I let the meat cook for another 90 seconds and then put it on a nearby plate to rest. My grill had cooled a bit, so I let it come back up to temperature before I reintroduced the meat to the heat for two minutes on side two. The meat went to a neutral corner to rest.
This gave me a chance to slice the grilled vegetables with tomato and grill off some tortillas. Just before serving, I sliced the meat thinly against the grain, imagining how a street vendor would cut the meat in a tropical paradise. It was rolled up in the tortilla and we enjoyed Carne Asada with Grilled Veggies and Guacamole.
I was very excited about how this cook turned out, but more excited about how easy it really was. Yes, I fussed a bit about some of the temperatures and ingredients, but could not help thinking about how delicious this could be while camping, tailgating, or just picnicking in the park.
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Check out Paul’s other tasty grilling posts in his blog archive.
Paul moved to Montana in 1996 with about a dozen friends from Lyndon State College in Vermont. He is still reluctantly paying his student loans and has carved out a career working as a supplier representative for various food and beverage products. Paul enjoys grilling after a day on the water or an afternoon in the garden where he has been known to grow heirloom tomatoes and peppers out of spite. Often cooking for extended family and friends, he takes a whimsical approach to cooking simple, seasonal dishes, while not taking it too seriously.