Most of you probably already know that this past Tuesday was Cinco de Mayo, a day observed around the world as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. What you may not know is that it was also Mr. SGCC's birthday. As luck would have it, Mr. SGCC is a huge fan of Mexican food. So, I was able to kill two birds with one stone that night by preparing him a delicious Mexican-style birthday dinner.
Since Mr. SGCC is also a carnivorous caveman, I decided to make something with beef - skirt steak to be exact. The most obvious choice was Fajitas. "Fajita" is actually a generic term used in Tex-Mex cuisine, referring to grilled meat rolled in a flour or corn tortilla. Originally, traditional fajitas were made using skirt steak, but these days one can find them made with all kinds of different proteins, including chicken, pork, shrimp and even beans. I decided to go the traditional route and used skirt steak.
Skirt steak is a cut of beef from the plate, or belly, of the cow. It is actually the diaphragm muscle. It's a long, flat, and fibrous cut that is very flavorful, but can be tougher than many other steak cuts. For this reason, it is usually marinated and grilled. When sliced thinly against the grain, the result is some intensely beefy, juicy and tender steak.
I marinated my skirt steak for several hours in a mixture of orange and lime juices, olive oil, garlic, jalapeno and cumin. I believe that the acid in the citrus helps to break down the fibres in the meat, thus making it more tender.
I also sauteed a heap of red onions, red bell pepper and mushrooms to serve along with the meat. And, I made a big batch of cool and creamy guacamole to finish off the dish. To round out the meal, I paired my fajitas with a zippy little Black Bean and Corn Salad.
It was an awesome Cinco de Mayo/Happy Birthday dinner! Mr. SGCC was very happy. And, when he's happy, I'm happy! ¡Olé!
Grilled Steak Fajitas
adapted from Tyler Florence
1 orange, juiced
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 small handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of fat
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 pint button mushrooms, cut into chunks
Guacamole (recipe follows)
12 warm flour tortillas (I cover them with a damp paper towel and heat in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds.)
Shredded cheese for topping (I use a pre-shredded Mexican blend from the market. My favorite is Sargento Artisan Authentic Mexican.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the first 8 ingredients for the marinade. Place skirt steak in a shallow container, and pour marinade over it. Poke a few holes in the meat with a fork so that it absorbs the marinade better. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Drain the marinade from the meat. Grill the steak on the grill or in a grill pan over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes each side for medium-rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest.
In the same pan, add the bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. Add a little olive oil, if needed. Saute the mixture for 3-5 minutes over medium-high heat, until the vegetables are tender, but not mushy.
Slice the steak thinly against the grain on a diagonal and toss with the vegetables.
Spread some guacamole on a tortilla and top with some of the steak mixture. Sprinkle some cheese on top. is desired. Roll up the tortilla around the filling and enjoy!
2 large or 3 small ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
1 cup red onion diced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely minced
1 small handful of cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of one lime
Tabasco sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Mash the avocado in a bowl. Leave it a little chunky. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Here are some more recipes from the SGCC archives to satisfy the caveman at your house!