Flank Steak Fajitas
Mmmmm…it’s Mexicali Monday, everybody!! Right now in Ontario we’re experiencing typical early September weather. There are the sweaty golden sunny days of Indian summer, followed by frigid evenings which are sneaking up on us earlier every day. To harness that last bit of summer that we have, I thought we would turn to the grill at least a few more times. What better to stretch those last lazy days of summer than a delectable feast from south of the border?
PS – we grill until there is snow on the ground. Well, and even AFTER there is snow on the ground. If you haven’t heard the joke yet, people say that Canada only has 2 seasons: patio season and winter. As soon as the ice breaks and the snow is almost melted from the ground, it is patio season. Well into the fall, when any sane people would be curled up inside by a fire, it is STILL patio season.
This is the first of several posts on Mexican cuisine, so grab a cerveza and let’s rock and roll. Posted recipes after this one include Chayote, Corn and Black Bean Salad, Amped Up Re-fried Beans (possibly the tastiest re-fried beans I have ever eaten, let alone made), Discount Salsa del Sol, and Mango Margaritas…ooh, I’m just trembling with anticipation!!
Flank Steak Fajitas
Serves: 4 – 6
For the flank steak:
- 1 flank steak (2-3 lbs) *
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp thyme
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 – 3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
For the fajitas:
- 1 package of 12 medium (8″) soft flour tortillas
All other toppings are optional, but I highly recommend:
- Sour cream
- Shredded Monterey Jack
- Sauteed peppers *
- Re-fried beans
* We don’t need a recipe for sauteed peppers, right? Just choose a variety of bell peppers in any combination of colours and saute them with a bit of olive oil until they’re cooked through.
My completely flawed theory is that all flank steaks are roughly the same size. This is not true, and they can vary by up to 100% in size. That’s okay though, if you see a size range then go for a medium or large. If your flank steak selection is pretty weak, go for 2 small one’s. Let’s not split hairs, we don’t all have an (affordable) available personal butcher.
And so what if steak isn’t your thing? I have a lot of friends that aren’t vegetarian, but they don’t eat red meat. This spice blend is just as delicious on chicken, and chicken fajitas are nothing to scoff at.
Combine your spices in a small bowl, and press or grate in the garlic cloves.
Pull about 3 peppers out of the can or jar. This will be roughly 3 tbsp, depending on the size of the peppers. Generally I make most of my condiments, but there are somethings that I am quite happy buying and this is one of them.
Chop these up finely, and then continue until they are fully minced.
Pour in the olive oil…
…and give it a stir. It should be a paste but still quite spreadable after the oil thins it out. Because flank steaks are so lean, the olive oil will also help out when you throw it on the grill.
Time to slather the steak! You can do this on a rimmed platter or plate, but I have seen the light through the joys of freezer bags. Dollop half the mixture on one side.
Massage it all over that side of the meat. Let no nook and cranny go without chipotle love. Flip the steak over, and repeat on the other side.
When your meat is nicely coated, seal the bag and throw it in the fridge to absorb all that wonderful flavour. This should be for a minimum of 1 hour, and up to 4 hours. If you only have an hour, leave it on the counter (unless your kitchen is steamy hot) to speed the flavor absorption process.
Barbecue the steak on fairly high heat until it reaches your desired doneness. “Doneness”, of course, is my highly technical term. Yup – take note, kids. You don’t learn that stuff in school. We like our meat rare or medium rare, so it will be about 3-4 minutes per side. If you like your steak a bit less pink, keep it on a bit longer but remember that flank steak cooks up FAST because it’s so thin. Also, there is very little fat on a flank steak and it is really best suited to being cooked rare, medium rare, or medium if absolutely necessary. If you like your steak well done, try using the spice paste on a striploin instead.
When the meat is done to your liking, take it off the grill and tent it with tin foil for at least 10 minutes. This lets the juices settle and circulate. If you cut in now, the juice will run right out and you’ll be left with hard, chewy and dry slices of jerky-steak. Has the meat rested? Then you’re ready to slice. Using a very sharp knife slice thinly, across the grain. It also helps to do this on an angle of about 45 degrees. This is where Mike is a viking, so he takes over The Slicing of the Meat.
Are you saying to yourself, “She SAID she doesn’t like her meat well done, but just LOOK AT IT! Barely a blush of pink to be found!” Fear not. After you slice it, the juice will start to come out a bit and you’ll see the colour start to change within minutes. As well, the ends are usually thinner so they tend to be more well done. There is no need to panic (yet) that you’ve overcooked the steak and your guests are about to eat shoe leather.
Ah, see? That’s what I’m talking about. You know that I wouldn’t lie to you.
I should also mention that I spent a fair bit of time as an apartment dweller, where barbecues were naught but a dream crushed by the force of an interminable bylaw. I would find it so frustrating to read delicious looking recipes and know that I couldn’t make them. But…I did anyway. If you are of the no barbecue breed, you can cook the flank steak in a very hot pan or skillet for the same amount of time. You don’t get gorgeous grill marks or that slightly smoky-charred flavor, but it’s delicious none the less.
And now let’s move into a room full of candlelight to plate it all up and enjoy the fiesta. Oooh, flank steak. My mouth waters at the site…
Assemble the fajitas! I used a layer of re-fried beans, 2 good size slices of flank steak, a few sauteed peppers, a generous sprinkling of pepper jack, a dollop of sour cream, and a hearty topping of Discount Salsa Del Sol.
Wrap and enjoy!
Here is what Mexican night looks like at our little hacienda. The re-fried beans might be hiding behind the tortilla chips, but don’t forget that they’re there!
Chill to the late summer sounds of Susanna by Art Company.