Friday, July 21, 2017

Oaxacan-Style Grilled Sirloin

I am a very big fan of Steve Raichlen, who is the author of the Barbecue Bible and host of shows such as Primal Grill.   Maybe it is his straightforward presentation of recipes that are easy to understand and replicate.  Maybe it is the line of grills and smokers that are in the background of his shows.  Maybe it is understanding that, during the process of  following recipes, it is okay to make mistakes.  After all, Steve Raichlen has said, "there's no such thing as a mistake in a kitchen, just a new recipe waiting to be discovered.

In the end, I think it is the undeniable fact that Steve Raichlen is synonymous with grilling and barbecue, both of which are among my favorite cooking methods.  Many of his recipes have inspired my cooking, especially when it  comes to my Steak Night meals or Savage Bolek BBQ recipes.  (The Baltimore Pit Beef recipe, which is Steve Raichlen's take on the quintessential Maryland "BBQ" ranks as one of the most popular recipes on this blog.)

One particular recipe, Oaxacan-Style Grilled Sirloin, grabbed my attention and did not let go.  The reference to Oaxacan cuisine was one reason, because I am intrigued by regional Mexican cooking.   For examples, you can check out my Pollo a las Brassas, which is based on street food from Sinaloa, or my Mole Verde Zacatecano, which is based on the green sauce from Zacatecas.

Raichlen's recipe is a nod to a under-appreciated fact about Oaxacan cuisine.  While Oaxaca may be known as the land of the seven moles, simply grilled meats wrapped in tortillas -- carne asado -- are as quintessentially Oaxacan as any of those seven sauces. Luke Pyerson, of the Boston Globe, recounted the experience of searching out carne asado at the Mercado Noviembre 20, a market locate just off the the zocalo or main square.  He described following the scent of grilled meat to the vendors, who served it in corn tortillas along with roasted onions and peppers, guacamole, and anything you purchased from the vegetable vendors at the market.  

If you want to transform the whole experience from print to video, I would assume it looked something like this: 

(Note: the first two and a half minutes are about the market, the rest of the video is about Oaxacan crafts and folk art, which is interesting too.)  After reading the article and watching the video, I wished there was an alley of smoked meats in my neighborhood.  Not just for the carne asado, but also the music.  

So, with a very hungry stomach, I made Steven Raichlen's Oaxacan-Style Grilled Sirloin.  Needless to say, I was not disappointed.  It was the best I could do without standing in the middle of the Mercado 20 Noviembre.  Given the ease of the recipe, as well as how tasty the results are, this recipe is going to be added to my quickly growing "go-to" recipes.   It is definitely a great summer recipe and, quite frankly, it is also a recipe that is worth standing in 3-4 inches of snow during the winter time just to grill the meat.

Recipe from Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Bible
Serves 8

2 bunches scallions, white and green parts trimmed
8 chiles de agua, cubanelle peppers, jalapeno peppers or poblano peppers
Coarse salt
2 pounds of boneless sirloin steak, cut into broad sheets 1/4 inch thick
16 corn or flour tortillas, or more as needed
4 limes, cut into wedges

1.  Prepare the grill.  Preheat the grill to high heat.

2.  Prepare the vegetables.  If using charcoal, toss the scallions and peppers right on the coals.  If using gas, arrange the scallions and peppers on the hot grate.  Cook, turning with tongs, until nicely charred and tender, about 5 minutes.  

3.  Continue preparing the vegetables.  Transfer the grilled scallions to a serving plate and set aside until ready to serve.  Scrape the charred skins off the peppers with a sharp night (don't worry about removing every last bit.  Cut the peppers in half and scrape out the seeds.  Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

4.  Grill the steak.  When ready to grill the beef, brush and oil the grate.  Generously salt the beef and place it on the hot grate.  Grill, turning with tongs, 1 to 4 minutes per side for well done (the way Oaxacans like their beef cooked).  While you are at it, arrange the tortillas, a few at a time, on the grill for a few seconds to ehat them, then keep them warm in a cloth lined basket.  Transfer the grilled beef to a cutting board and cut it into thin strips or 1/2 inch dice.  

5.  Serve.  Set out the bowls of lime wedges, guacamole and salsa, along with the scallions and peppers.  To eat, place a few pieces of beef on the tortilla.  Place a grilled scallion and half pepper on top.  Top with spoonfuls of guacamole and salsa, and a squeeze of lime juice.  Roll the whole thing up and eat it.


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