Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Another dinner delight!

On Tuesday night, we had a terrific group of friends over for dinner, to celebrate all sorts of great things.  We're all a hungry bunch, but one friend is a pescaterian, so I wanted to come up with a menu that quenched the appetite of the blood thirsty carnivores without making the fish eater feel like the odd-man-out. 

I turned to my trusty friend "" for inspiration, and latched onto the idea of build-your-own carne asada and marinated shrimp tacos. I also found a tantalizing recipe for Salsa Verde made from tomatillos, which I'd never made before... Very exciting! All of the recipes were pretty straight forward and easy to make, though the marinade for the carne asada required a little bit of planning ahead. (We're talking a couple of hours and you're diamonds...) Let's start with the Salsa Verde recipe, which I followed to a tee. Try not to be daunted by the number of ingredients and instructions included in this posting... Everything was really very easy, and most of the ingredients are duplicates from one recipe to another. Don't be discouraged! If I can do it after work on a Tuesday night, you can too! 

Salse Verde

5 medium tomatillos 
1 medium serrano chili
3 cloves unpeeled garlic
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 medium onion minced
10 sprigs of cilantro minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Peel the husks off the tomatillos and wash thoroughly. Score the bottoms of the tomatillos with a knife. Move the oven rack to the top position and turn on the broiler. Lay down a piece of foil onto the rack and turn up the edges to prevent juices from running off. Place the tomatillos, chili and garlic on the foil and broil until the skins charred. Flip everything over and char the other side. Remove everything from the oven with the foil, being careful not to spill any of the liquid. Remove the core excess char from the tomatillos and mince with a sharp knife. Mince the chili and garlic and add to a bowl with the tomatillos. Add the lime juice, onions and cilantro then salt to taste.

I happen to love making an excessive quantity of condiments whenever we're eating mexican food, so I couldn't resist making my go-to red cabbage salad, and the recipe for this pico de gallo that John found online. I tend to apply a ridiculous-is-more approach to mexican food, but I've been disappointed by how "not mexican" it's often tasted in the past. Neither of these recipes were anything less than delicious however, so hopefully I've turned the corner on lack-luster homemade salsas from here on! 

Pico De Gallo:

  • 4 vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
  • 1 Serrano chile, minced
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together. Toss thoroughly. Let it sit for 15 minutes hour to allow the flavors to marry.
Yield: 2 cups

Now for the details on the main course! My plan for making this meal a pescaterian-friendly endeavor was to use the same marinade for both the beef and shrimp dishes, so everybody was essentially enjoying the same taste sensations in different forms. Very diplomatic, no? Once again, I made this recipe exactly as described, to fabulous results. In fact, John declared this the most successful in-the-apartment-without-a-BBQ steak we've ever made. The shrimp were equally tasty, though prepared slightly differently than the carne asada. I marinated them for much less time-- about 30 minutes-- and then sauteed them in a pan with just a little bit of the marinade to keep them nice and moist. Consult the recipe below, and you too can enjoy a fiesta all your own! 

Carne Asada

makes 8-10 tacos
1 skirt steak or 2 hanger steaks
juice of 1 limes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1-2 Serrano chillies, minced (to taste)
1 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoons ground cumin seed
2 teaspoons kosher salt (less if using table salt)
black pepper to taste
1 tablespoons pureed kiwi (optional)
1/4 cup sweet onions minced
1/4 cup cilantro minced
1 batch of homemade tortillas
Combine all the marinade ingredients in a container with a lid that will fit the meat. Kiwi has a powerful enzyme called actinidin that breaks down protein, making it a great addition to the marinade if you don’t plan on letting the meat marinate overnight. Taste it and add more salt or sugar if needed. It should be relatively salty, but not so salty that it burns your tongue. The sugar is a personal preference thing. If you like it sweeter, add more sugar.
When you’re ready to grill the meat, remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. This helps ensure the Carne Asada will cook evenly. If you’re using a broiler, move the rack to the top position and turn the broiler on high, with a grilling rack on top of a baking sheet. Scrape any excess marinade off the meat and place the meat on the grill. Cook until nicely browned on one side, flip and brown the other side. Skirt steak will cook much faster than hanger steak, so be careful not to overcook it.
Transfer the Carne Asada to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 5 minutes. Use a sharp knife to roughly chop up the meat then add it to a bowl with the sweet onions, cilantro, and any juices that accumulated on the baking sheet or cutting board. Serve the Carne Asada with fresh tortillas and Pico De Gallo. (Or in our case: Serve w/ tortillas, pico de gallo, salsa verde, guacamole, and red cabbage salad.)
Enjoy Folks! Eat Up! 

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