Wednesday, August 18, 2004
NOGALES STEAK TACOS
We love this recipe and have ended up making it at least once a month ever since I pulled it out of Pacific Grilling, by Denis Kelly. It may actually be my favorite non-pasta recipe. If you eat meat at all, you must try this. I’m not even a big steak fan, but sometimes I do crave red meat, and I love the flavor imparted by the marinade. I often serve this with corn on the cob, but last night we just chowed on the tacos. If I could find an equally good chicken taco recipe, I think I’d be in hog heaven. Of course, I could try the marinade on chicken sometime, but why mess with a good thing?
Yes, there are rather a lot of marinade ingredients, but don’t skimp on anything unless you absolutely have to. Squeezing all those citrus fruits will cramp your hands into freakish claws, so I bought a juicer for $2 at Target—nothing automatic, just a glass jar with a plastic lid that has a ridged cone-shaped protuberance on which you rub the fruit so the juice falls into the jar. One of the better investments I’ve ever made. I did use bottled lime juice once, when the grocery store was out of limes, and it didn’t ruin the recipe, but some corners just shouldn’t be cut. Oh, and don’t be afraid of the tequila, either—you won’t be able to taste it per se in the steaks after they’re cooked, but it imparts extra zip.
Note, June 2016: Now I always serve my steak tacos with these pickled onions and cilantro sauce accompaniments from Dinner: A Love Story. Also, flank steak works just fine here. Also, I'm embarrassed by how overcooked the steak in the photo above looks.
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (about 1 medium orange)
½ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 4-6 small limes)
2 tablespoons tequila (optional…but encouraged)
2 tablespoons ground chiles, ancho or New Mexico (confession: I have no clue about ground chiles, so I just buy a jalapeno and dice it and that seems just fine to me)
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 ¾-to-1-inch-thick chuck steaks or 2 1-to-1¼-inch-thick rib steaks, 1½ pounds total
corn or flour tortillas (I use the fajita-size flour ones, usually about 16 of them)
grated Monterey Jack cheese (sometimes I use the hot-pepper Jack if I’m feel sassy, and that’s good)
guacamole or salsa of your choice (we generally use both—Holy Guacamole, a local brand we buy at the farmers’ market, and Salsa Especial from Trader Joe’s, which I could eat with a spoon it’s so good)
1. The day before you want to make the tacos, mix all the marinade ingredients in a large glass bowl with a lid (if you don't have a bowl, you can use a Ziplock bag).
2. Stab the steaks all over with a fork and add them to the bowl, making sure they are covered with the marinade. Put the lid on the bowl and put it in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. It’s best to turn the steaks occasionally, though (I usually do it at breakfastime on the day of cooking, about halfway through the marination process).
3. Get your grilling mechanism ready. (Mine, as always, was the faithful George Foreman grill.) While it's heating, remove the steaks from the marinade, pat them dry with paper towels, and season them lightly with salt and pepper. Then grill them until they're cooked to your liking.
4. While the meat is cooking, preheat the oven to 300 degrees and, when it's warm, wrap the tortillas in foil and put them in the oven for maybe 5 minutes, until they're warm and pliable. Get the cheese, guac, and salsa ready to go and arrange them smorgasboard-style.
5. When the steaks are done, let them sit on a cutting board for 5-10 minutes. Then cut them against the grain into strips 3 to 4 inches long and about ¼ inch thick. Put meat, cheese, salsa, and guac into tortillas and eat them.
Time: 30 minutes, plus 24 hours to marinate