Grilling season is underway which calls for family gatherings, patio time and plentiful good food. Carne asada is a meal time crowd pleaser, not only for its crusty, fire-kissed exterior and juicy, meaty interior, but also for the ease in preparation and versatility. Thinly slice up this no-fuss recipe for carne asada and serve with rice, beans and grilled veggies on the side. You can even stuff it in tacos, toss in a salad, or put it in sandwiches.
Carne asada is a popular dish in Mexico and other locales south of the border. The first time I made it, I quickly realized there is nothing difficult or intimidating about the process. The term carne asada literally translates to “grilled meat” and I KNOW I can grill meat!
While several different cuts of beef can be used to make a successful carne asada, Flank Steak is a winning pick, offering a lean, meaty-tasting and surprisingly tender eating experience. Flank Steak is made even more tender and flavorful thanks to a simple marinade that relies on signature ingredients including citrus juices, cumin and garlic.
After whisking up the carne asada marinade, pour it into a rimmed baking dish with steaks, flipping once to coat meat. Cover the steaks with wrap or foil, and let sit in the fridge for 1 to 4 hours. Note that the majority of Flank Steaks in the grocery store are in the 1 to 1 ½-pound range, so you’ll likely end up using two flank steaks for this recipe. In my experience the marinade will adequately cover up to 3 pounds of meat.
At least 30 minutes before you want to serve dinner, heat up a gas or charcoal grill to 400°F. If you can hold your hand 4 inches above the flames for 4 seconds before the heat requires you to move your hand, the grill is about 400°F. Next, pour off and discard the marinade from the Flank Steaks and place on oiled grates.
Grill streaks 8 to10 minutes on one side or until moisture starts to pool on the top and beef releases easily from grates with tongs. Flip once, grilling on the other side for 8 to 10 minutes longer or until internal temperature reaches 145°F with meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak. The grilled flank steak will look and smell amazing, but you’ll help retain the juices that keep the meat tender by allowing it to rest on a platter for at least 3 minutes.
After the steaks have rested, slice very thinly across the grain. For grilled Flank steaks, “across the grain,” would typically be on the shorter side of the steak. Cutting crosswise through the muscle fibers optimized the tenderness of any cut of beef.
Coming in a close second to eating carne asada fresh from the grill is having leftovers. I portion my sliced steaks into both single-serve and family-size portions so that I can stash in the fridge or freezer for busy days. Tacos are my family’s favorite way to eat carne asada leftovers – breakfast, lunch and dinner!