kitchen firsts: lime-chile-herb steak tacos + quick pickled onions

5 September, 2010 at 1:03 pm 1 comment

There are, again, two kitchen firsts this time around. The first is the making of something pickled! I mean, I guess we made kimchi before, but that hardly seems to be in the same category as these quick red onions. I normally have a pretty so-so reaction to pickled red onions– they strike me as a little slimy and boring, neither a detriment nor an asset to whatever I might eat them with, but these quick pickled ones from America’s Test Kitchen were totally amazing. They had that all-important pickly, briny vinegar flavor, but with just enough sweetness to appeal to people that usually don’t like pickled things. They had a little heat from some jalapeno, but not too much, and they managed to be softened from the pickling liquid but still keep a little bit of crunch! They are so good I could snack on them plain, but I won’t, for the sake of my breath. Also, they are much better on tacos.

The second kitchen first is me deigning to allow a foul, nasty ingredient into my kitchen. Cilantro! Cilantro seems to be a very polarizing ingredient in the food world, and while I’ve heard that you can train your palate to accept cilantro, I have no desire to do so! That is, except for the times that I’m trying to enjoy Mexican or Thai food and cilantro sneaks in to mess up my otherwise delicious meal, or the fact that, despite my undying love for mangos, I have never been able to enjoy a mango salsa due to the ubiquitous sprinkling of cilantro. So actually, maybe it would be in my interest to at least be neutral about cilantro…I guess if anything can accomplish that, it’s these steak tacos.

There are a multitude of things to like about these steak tacos. Number one, of course, is that they are so flavorful that even I could not find fault in the presence of cilantro in the marinade and sauce, which is saying a whole lot. The second thing about them is that they were incredibly easy, and they have liberated me from the notion that steak tacos can only be prepared on the grill. I don’t know why, but it never occurred to me that I could make them inside in a skillet, as easily as I would saute vegetables or sear a pork chop! But this indoor steak taco recipe worked fabulously, not only because we don’t have a real barbecue but because it’s kind of a lot of trouble to whip out the barbecue on a weeknight just so you can make tacos for two. That said, you can of course make these on a grill (labor day barbecue, anyone?) if you prefer! All in all, these tacos are easy enough for a weeknight meal for two, but tasty enough to serve for a crowd. And the best part is, you’ll still be able to make them in the dead of winter!

Indoor (or outdoor) Steak Tacos with Chile-Lime-Cilantro Marinade
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two: 2010
Serves 4

For the marinade:
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled
4 scallions, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, stemmed (discard the seeds if you want to put a lid on the spiciness; we keep about half of them)
1/2 tsp cumin
2 T vegetable oil
1 T fresh lime juice

For the tacos:
1 lb flank steak (our butcher recommends top sirloin if you want something cheaper but similar)
salt and pepper
sprinkle of sugar
1 T vegetable oil
fresh corn tortillas
serving options: quick pickled onions (recipe follows), cotija cheese crumbles, guacamole

First, prepare the marinade. Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, then pulse to combine until it looks rather like pesto (don’t try for a total puree, there can be some little chunks), scraping down the sides as necessary. Set aside about 2 T of this paste to toss with the steak once its cooked.

Pat your steak dry with a paper towel, then slice it, along the grain, into strips about an inch and a half wide. Use a fork to pierce the surface of each steak strip all over, or drag the tines along the surface to make grooves. Place the steak pieces in a marinating dish, then sprinkle with salt and slather with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

After marinating, bring the steak out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Scrape the herb paste off of the steak and sprinkle with the pepper and sugar. If you’re grilling, you can take them outside and grill them to medium rare, but if you’re making them inside, heat the tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When it’s hot, brown the steak pieces well on each side, and cook until they’re medium rare (about 125 degrees if you want to check). Let the meat rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain, and tossing with the reserving 2 T of marinade. Taste, and season again with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with warm tortillas and all your fixins!

Quick-Pickled Red Onions
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two: 2010
Serves 4

1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2.5 T sugar
1 jalapeno, stemmed and sliced (again, we like to keep some of the seeds, but you can choose your own heat level)
1/8 tsp salt

Slice your onions, and place them in a medium heat-resistant bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar, jalapeno, and salt to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Then pour the mixture over the onions in a bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let cool to room temperature. The onions will soften and pickle. When they’re cool, they’re ready to serve. You can either grab them as needed out of the pickling liquid, or drain and discard the liquid before serving. You can store any leftover onions in an airtight container up to 1 week, but do discard the liquid or they’ll just get picklier and soggy.

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kitchen firsts: poached egg sandwiches with spinach, tomato and cheese announcing: the kitchen essentials page!

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. rezeptfrei potenzmittel  |  11 November, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.
    Keep working ,great job!

    Reply

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