Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Best Cinco de Mayo Party Food: Simple Steak Tacos

Traditional Mexican food isn't rich, cheesy, and totally filling like the dishes you might typically find in a conventional Mexican restaurant. With a great emphasis on fresh produce, bright, clean flavors, and a variety of colors in each dish, I find real Mexican food to be surprisingly enjoyable.

In preparation for Cinco de Mayo, I've been revisiting some Mexican favorites. Start with an ice-cold blood orange margarita, then of course some spicy guacamole with chips and a fruit salsa. Round out the meal with a assemble-your-own taco bar. Arrange a variety of fillings and toppings, salsas, and garnishes, along with both flour and corn tortillas, and one or two proteins (I like flank steak or fish; chicken also works well). Then allow your guests to assemble their own meal.

To inspire you, I'm including my recipe for a simply broiled flank steak. I find that a properly cooked grass-fed flank steak, when seasoned well, needs little garnish other than some thinly sliced vegetables, a couple of slices of avocado, and a dollop of crema. And you don't need to have access to a grill to successfully make a juicy, medium-rare steak (without stinking or smoking up your small studio apartment).

When making a salad — or eating it on the run — isn’t an option, there are tacos. No, I’m not talking about the crispy, Tex-Mex interpretation. I’m talking about the perfectly warm and soft (and more authentically Mexican) flour or corn tortillas. Stuff it moderately, slather on some crema, wrap, and go. One is perfect for lunch, or two for dinner. And if you have leftovers, like I did, sliced steak freezes and defrosts beautifully -- just freeze the slices within two days of cooking and freeze for up to two weeks in a well-sealed glass container. Let the steak defrost in the refrigerator overnight (or on the counter for an hour or two).

Flank Steak Tacos

1 pound flank steak
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 avocado, thinly sliced
8 tortillas, preferably 6-inch corn, but any 6-8-inch corn or flour tortilla will work
2/3 cup Mexican crema or yogurt/sour cream thinned with a little cream, to taste
Freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish

Preheat broiler on high.

Season steak on both sides with salt and pepper. Once broiler is hot, place steak on broiler pan and cook for about 4 minutes, rotating halfway through. Flip steak and broil about 4 minutes longer for medium rare. Continue to cook if you like it more well done. Remove the steak and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain.

Meanwhile, place vegetables all on a platter and warm the tortillas. Set up a station where guests can assemble their own tacos, starting with a tortilla. Add the steak, vegetables, avocado, crema, and cilantro.

Wrap (roll!) and serve.

Serves 4
Total time: 30 minutes


Peggy said...

These look great! I love steak tacos - they're so easy to put together and are on the table in no time!

earthlyepicurean said...

Glad you love it. They're so good -- and versatile.