Carne Asada Tacos
20 to 30 minutes
Carne asada translates simply to “grilled meat” in Spanish, but when uttered with tacos you’re probably talking about skirt steak. It’s a chewy cut and must be cooked quickly and sliced across the grain to guarantee tenderness, but the evenly distributed fat makes for rich and satisfying eating. You don’t have to season the meat much but you can; feel free to tinker with the spices and herbs according to what you like and what you have: Ground cumin, chili powder, ground coriander, and/or dried thyme are all good.
Corn tortillas are traditional for tacos, as is serving the tortillas doubled up. If you like flour tortillas, go for it; the same goes for using one tortilla per taco instead of two.
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 1 ⁄ 2 pounds skirt steak
1 large ripe avocado
2 or 3 limes
Hot sauce of your choice
1 small red onion, halved, thinly sliced, and separated
1 ⁄ 2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 ⁄ 2 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
2 cups any salsa of your choice
12–18 6-inch corn tortillas for serving
1. Combine the salt, oregano, and chipotle and ancho powders in a small bowl. Pat the steak dry with paper towels, then sprinkle the rub evenly over both sides, gently patting to help it stick.
2. Start the coals or heat a gas grill for direct cooking (the fire should be as hot as you can make it). Make sure the grates are clean.
3. While the grill is heating, halve the avocado and remove the pit; scoop the flesh into a bowl and mash, leaving it a bit chunky. Squeeze in the juice of 1 of the limes (or more or less to taste) and add a few dashes hot sauce. Stir gently to combine. Cut the remaining lime(s) into 8 wedges. Put the onion, cilantro, sour cream, and salsa into small serving bowls.
4. Put the steak on the grill directly over the fire. Close the lid and cook, turning once, until medium-rare, 2 to 3 minutes per side. (Nick with a small knife and peek inside.)
5. Transfer to a cutting board, let rest 5 minutes, and slice thinly across the grain (or chop it if you like). Transfer to a platter and pour over any accumulated juices. Quickly heat the tortillas on the grill (see below), then put the steak, tortillas, and accompaniments on the table for everyone to assemble their own tacos.
Heating Tortillas on the Grill
The best way to heat corn or flour tortillas is directly on the grill. Over a hot fire with the lid closed, it takes less than a minute and you can do several at a time— just don’t stack them. They often puff up like the Indian bread poori, but deflate offgrill. Then you can distribute them among waiting plates or wrap loosely in foil or a clean kitchen towel to pass warm at the table. It’s definitely worth the short wait, but if you can’t—or prefer a softer texture—wrap the tortillas in one or more foil packages and put them on the grill during the last few minutes of cooking (the warming rack is an ideal place).