…from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? Last week I was sitting in a booth at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants when the server walked by our table with a piled-high plate of nachos. There’s something lovely about the unapologetic lustiness of a big pile of nachos. I ordered a far less decadent dish consisting of a pair of beef tacos.
I came home and kept thinking about those darn nachos. I looked around the kitchen and had everything but the tortilla chips. What’s a person to do? I decided to dial it up a bunch with my recipe for Carne Asada Fries. This recipe was created to fill the hole in your hearts left by all those missed happy hours not shared with friends and family during the pandemic. These make the ideal appetizer or even a dinner. The center of this recipe is the highly-flavored carne asada. It is a tender, juicy steak marinated in a sauce made with roasted chiles, cumin, citrus and cilantro.
The carne asada (steak) contributes a hearty, smoky flavor while the fresh jalapeño, tomato and onion add a zesty bite of heat and acid. The crema takes down the spiciness. The crunchy fries add a decadent counterpoint to the tender carne asada.
I only had frozen fries on hand, which was just fine because time was of the essence, but if you have the time and the equipment you can make your own light and crispy homemade air fryer French fries.
Finally, the hearty protein of the steak will be a steadying influence alongside the cocktail of your choice. I enjoyed mine with a top-drawer margarita, or it could work with an ice-cold beer. The perfect choice for celebrating Cinco de Mayo.
Prep time: 45 minutes
Marinate time: 3 hours or overnight
Cook time: 15 minutes
Assembly time: 5 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
For the carne asada
3 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
3 dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 cup water
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grill
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
4 tablespoons minced garlic
1 small bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems; reserve some for garnish
1 tablespoon whole cumin seed, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon whole coriander seed, toasted and ground
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1-1/2 pounds skirt steak, cut into 2 equal-size pieces
For the air fryer French fries
2 15-oz packages frozen French fries
Spray oil (I prefer Pam)
1 seeded and diced tomato
1/2 cup diced white onion
1 thinly sliced jalapeño pepper
1/4 cup crema
6 lime wedges, for garnish
To make the carne asada
ChefSecret: Consider making a double batch of carne asada to use in tacos, enchiladas, tortas and rice bowls.
Quip of the Day: “Why are eggs packaged in flimsy Styrofoam packaging and batteries come in a package that takes a chainsaw to open?”
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To you and everyone dear to you, be strong, be positive, stay well, stay safe and be kind. Take a breath and count your blessings, and if you have a little extra to share with others, please consider donating to Feeding America.
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