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Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos with
Roasted Poblano Rajas




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Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos with
Roasted Poblano Rajas

(Tacos de Arrachera al Carbón con Rajas)

Best of the Best Vol. 4:
100 Best Recipes From the
Best Cookbooks of the Year

Food & Wine Books, Editor in Chief Judith Hill,
2001, American Express Publishing Corp.


Mexico: One Plate at a Time
© Rick Bayless  and Deann Groen Bayless, 2000, Scribner

Makes 12 tacos, serving 4 as a light meal

2 medium white onions, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
(keep the rounds intact for easy grilling)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon cumin, preferably fresh ground
1 pound beef skirt steak, trimmed of surface fat as
well as the thin white membranes called “silverskin”
3 medium (about 9 ounces total) fresh poblano chiles
Vegetable or olive oil for brushing or spritzing
the onions and meat
A small bowlful of lime wedges for serving
12 warm, fresh corn tortillas
(or reheat store-bought ones*)

1. Marinating the meat – In a food processor or blender, combine one-quarter of the onions, the garlic, lime juice, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon
salt. Process to a smooth purée. Place the skirt steak in a nonaluminum
baking dish, Using a spoon, smear the marinade over both sides of the
skirt steak. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
2. Making the grilled chile-and-onion rajas - Turn on the oven to its lowest setting. Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let it
burn just until the coals are covered with gray ash and very hot. Either
turn the burner(s) in the center of the grill to medium-low or bank the
coals to the sides of the grill for indirect cooking. Set the cooking grate
in place, cover the grill and let the grate heat up, 5 minutes or so. Lay
the chiles on the hottest part of the grill, and cook, turning occasionally,
until the skin is blistered and uniformly blackened all over, about 5
minutes. Be careful not to char the flesh, only the skin. Remove the
chiles from the grill and cover with a kitchen towel. While the chiles
are roasting, brush or spray the remaining onion slices with oil and lay
the whole rounds of onions on the grill in a cooler spot than you chose
for the chiles. When they’re starting to soften and are browned on the
first side, about 10 minutes, use a spatula to flip them and brown the
other side. Transfer to an ovenproof serving dish and separate the rings
(if they haven’t started separating during grilling). Rub the blackened
skin off the chiles, then pull out the stems and seed pods. Rinse briefly
to remove any stray seeds and bits of skin. Slice into 1/4-inch strips
and stir into the onions. Taste the mixture and season it with salt,
usually about 1/4 teaspoon. Keep warm in the oven.
3. Grilling the meat – Remove the steak from the marinade and gently
shake off the excess. Oil the steak well on both sides and lay it over
the hottest part of the grill. Grill, turning once, until richly browned
and done to your liking, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side for
medium-rare (the way I like skirt steak).
4. Serving the tacos – Cut the long piece of skirt steak into 3- to 4-inch lengths, then cut each section across the grain (that is, in line with the
full length of the steak) into thin strips. Mix with the chiles and onions,
season with a little salt and set on the table along with the lime wedges
and hot tortillas, for your guests to make soft tacos.

Working ahead: Thin steaks like skirt taste best with a relatively short tour in
the marinade – 1 to 8 hours. Leave them longer, and the marinade overpowers
the flavor and saps the rosy color of the meat. The poblano-and-onion rajas
can be made several hours ahead and left at room temperature; rewarm before serving. The steak, of course, must be grilled just before you’re ready to eat.

Wine Recommendation: Although grilled steak is often the best backdrop for a
truly great wine, the fire in this dish will steal center stage from anything truly elegant. So save that special bottle for another night and go instead for a sim-
ple, straightforward red, such as a Côte-du-Rhône from the South of France.

Food & Wine Test-Kitchen Tips
Because Rick Bayless is so very careful to preserve authentic flavor in his
recipes, we hesitate to mention this, but when we tested these, there were no
fresh poblanos to be found, and we substituted always-available jalapeños.
The tacos were superb. The jalapeños on the market the last couple of years
seem to be bigger and milder than they used to be, which is the kind you need
here if you’re making a substitution.

* Reheating Corn Tortillas

There are several methods for reheating corn tortillas: dry heat (gas
flame), moist heat (steamer and microwave and oily heat (dry-frying).

  • Dry heat – This easy method works only if your tortillas have been made that day. Heat the tortillas directly over the flame (or on a griddle or skillet), flipping them until toasty and pliable.
  • Moist heat of a steamer – This is easier for larger quantities of corn tortillas, especially if you need to hold them hot for a little while. Pour 1/2 inch water into the bottom of the steamer, then line the steaming basket with a clean heavy kitchen towel. Lay the tortillas in the basket in stacks of 12 (a small vegetable steamer will accommodate only one stack; a large Asian steamer
    will hold three or four stacks). Fold the edges of the towel over the tortillas
    to cover them, set the lid in place, bring the water to a boil and let boil only
    for 1 minute, then turn off the fire and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. If
    you wish to keep the tortillas hot for up to an hour, slip the steamer into a
    low oven for reheat the water periodically.
  • Moist heat of a microwave – This easy method works best with no more than
    a dozen tortillas. Drizzle a clean kitchen towel with 3 tablespoons water
    and wring the towel to evenly distribute the moisture. Use the towel to line
    a microwave-safe casserole dish (8 or 9 inches in diameter is best). Lay in
    a dozen tortillas, cover with the towel and the lid, then microwave at 50
    percent power for 4 minutes. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. The tortillas
    will stay warm for 20 minutes.
  • Oily heat – Though it’s not much a part of home cooking, street vendors of seared-meat tacos reheat fresh tortillas with the heat of a slightly oily grid-
    dle – they’re not so much frying the tortillas (which would mean completely
    submerging the tortillas in oil) as griddle-heating them with a tiny bit of oil.

When just-baked tortillas come off the griddle or when they’ve been reheated, they’re traditionally kept warm in a tightly woven basket (chiquihuite) lined with a cloth; some have lids, others don’t. In the Yucatan, they use hollowed-out gourds. And in modern households, they use Styrofoam containers – which are so efficient that they now come in many decorated styles. If you’re having a party, hold hot tortillas in an insulated chest (like an ice chest) lined with a towel.

Featured Archive Recipes:
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Sobrebarriga Bogotana
Rick Bayless's Sweet-and-Smoky Pork Chops 
Tacos of BBQ Pork Loin, Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes,
and Tomatillo-Red Pepper Relish

Pork Tenderloin Fajitas
Dean Fearing's Chicken "Chili" Tacos with Diablo Sauce

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