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When working with tomatoes and limes, bring them to room temperature before using. You will extract more juice from citrus when at room temperature. Roll it on the counter firmly with your palm before slicing. Tomatoes at room temperature tend to be more flavorful. In fact, I rarely refrigerate a tomato.
When working with cilantro and Italian parsley, remember that their stems are actually flavorful. You can use the top tender stems with out having to pick thru each one for its leaves. It saves time and actually adds flavor. I literally take the whole top of the bunch of cilantro in my hand and twist it off. The stems that come off with the tops are tender, and I use them in the chimichurri and in salsa. And the same with parsley.
Brian and I make tacos together. I marinate the beef and make all the sides. He is in charge of the grilling. It is fast and easy work with two people, and we can have most of it complete in 40 minutes, sometimes 30 if the meat is pre-marinated. It’s a great meal to serve when having guests over. An even simpler marinade for the beef is to just coat in soy sauce and the juice of one lime, for 15 minutes. In a pinch, I will sometimes do this.
A quick substitution for vegans and vegetarians is a Seared Mexican Rubbed Tofu. Buy your favorite taco seasoning, or make your own using salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, chile powder, or chipotle powder, garlic powder and a little corn starch. The secret is to add enough salt. I will often sear one piece ahead and test for salt. Cut tofu into strips, coat with spice rub and sear all sides in a skillet. We actually eat Tofu Tacos quite frequently, probably more than beef.
When grilling beef, bring meat to room temp before grilling. Preheat your grill to med high. A little charring is good. Remember to let meat rest 10 minutes before cutting across the grain.
Slice meat into bite size strips and lay on a big cutting board, topped with a generous amount of the Chimichurri sauce. Place salsas, quick pickles, limes, crumbled cojita chhese, and grilled onions all around it.
The last few years I’ve started growing my own cilantro because I use it so often and use it in large quantities. Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs to grow because it is just so easy! Its nice having fresh herbs growing right off the kitchen – no need to run to the store – and it ends up saving us money in the long run.
- Steak and Marinade:
- 2 lbs Flank Steak (or pounded skirt steak)
- 1 sliced sweet onion for grilling (optional)
- Juice of 1 orange
- Juice of 2 limes
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 4 smashed, chopped garlic cloves
- ½ cup chopped cilantro (stems ok)
- sliced sweet onion ( optional) for grilling
- sometimes I will add cumin, coriander or chili power.
- Cilantro Chimichurri:
- 1 bunch Cilantro or about 1 cup packed (stems OK)
- 1 bunch Italian Parsley- about 1 cup packed (thin stems OK)
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice (1-2 limes)
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ of one jalapeño pepper
- Simple Pico De Gallo:
- 4 vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
- ½ medium red onion, chopped
- 2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
- 1 Serrano chili, minced
- 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ limes, juiced
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Quick Pickles:
- 2 cups mix of sliced radishes, onion, or carrots, cauliflower, or whatever you like
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns or whole coriander seed
- A few sprigs cilantro
- Tortillas: 10-12, freshly made if possible
- Garnish Ideas:
- Lime wedges, avocado slices, cabbage slaw, crumbed queso fresco or cotija cheese (optional), Tapatio hot sauce, sour cream avocado, cilantro
- Steak Instructions: In a bowl, mix together ingredients for marinade. Place steak and onions in a gallon size Ziploc bag and pour marinade over, sealing and turning several times to coat well. Let sit at room temp for at least 30 minutes, turning occasionally. (Or marinate for up to 3 hours in fridge, bringing to room temp before grilling.) Pre-heat grill and grill meat. Grill steak on med high heat to desired doneness. A little char is good. Let rest 10 minutes, then thinly slice the meat across the grain.
- Chimichurri Instructions: In a food processor, place jalapeno, garlic, onion, and pulse several times until chopped. Add cilantro (stems are fine) and Italian parsley (again, thin stems are fine), pulse again. Add oil, lime juice, cumin, coriander, and salt. Pulse until combined. Set aside in small serving bowl.
- Salsa: Finely dice tomato, onion, jalapeño and cilantro. Season with salt, pepper and lime. Sometimes I'll add diced avocado and a couple splashes of Tapatio hot sauce. Place all in a bowl, mix and let sit for 15 min to 1 hour (makes 2 Cups)
- Quick Pickles: In a small sauce pan, combine water, vinegar, sugar, salt and peppercorns or coriander seeds. Add your choice of sliced radishes, slivered onions, thin sliced carrots or what ever else you like. Bring to a boil. Remove and place in freezer for 10-15 minutes (or refrigerate until cold). Remove and place in a serving bowl or jar. Top with a little fresh cilantro.
- Vegan Option: Seared Mexican Rubbed Tofu. Buy your favorite taco seasoning, or make your own using salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, chile powder, or chipotle powder, garlic powder and a little corn starch. Cut tofu into strips, coat with spice rub and sear all sides in a hot skillet with a little oil. The secret is to add enough salt. I will often start with coating and searing one piece of tofu first,and test for salt. We actually eat Tofu Tacos quite frequently, probably more than beef.
- Tortillas - lightly grill, until soft and pliable (or grill directly on a gas burner. flipping and turning for 30 seconds) wrap up in a towel, to prevent drying.
- Serve everything together, along with garnishes