Summer has definitely arrived! Temperatures are reaching into the 90’s daily and the high humidity makes it swelteringly hot. I spend most of my time going from one air conditioned environment to the next. Saturdays are the exception.
My yard is loving this hot, muggy weather. If I don’t cut the grass every week I wind up with a jungle on my hands. So, I psyche myself up and devote an entire day to yard work. There’s grass to cut and bushes to trim. The vegetable garden needs weeding and harvesting. I try to cram it all into one day’s work, which doesn’t always happen.
The thing that motivates me to do all of this is the promise of an ice-cold beer and a delicious dinner from the grill, when the work is done.
Step One: put a beer, or two, in the refrigerator.
Step Two: marinate some meat and refrigerate until needed.
Step Three: Chop vegetables and fruit for the dinner and keep cool.
Step Four: Clean and prepare an outdoor grill. Have tools and charcoal ready when they’re needed.
Step Five: Do the yard work. Get hot, sweaty, thirsty and hungry.
Step Six: Take a long cool shower.
Step Seven: Open the beer. Take a sip. Take the beer with you for the next few steps.
Step Eight: Start the coals for the grill.
Step Nine: Grill the meat.
Step Ten: Relax and celebrate your hard work with a cold beer, good food and good friends.
Saturday Fajitas (Fajitas para el sábado)
Skirt steak has become ridiculously overpriced during the last several years. Beef, in general is sky-rocketing in price, due to the demand. Skirt steak is a tough, albeit tasty, cut of beef. It is comes from the diaphragm of cattle and therefore is muscular and tough. A marinade that contains citrus will help tenderize and flavor the beef.
Today, I am using a top round steak. Top round is another a muscular cut of beef and is more lean than skirt steak but I like to use it as a substitute for skirt steak, when the price is right.
2 lbs top round steak
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbs red chile powder (polvo de chile rojo)
2 tsp cumin powder (comino en povo)
1 cup salsa (tomato, onion, chiles, etc.)
1 yellow onion (cebolla amarilla)
1 red bell pepper (pimiento roja)
1 green bell pepper (pimeinto verde)
2 fresh jalapeños
2 cups freshly made guacamole a la Mexicana (ingredients below)
½ cup sour cream (crema fresca)
2 cups chopped lettuce (lechuga cortada)
1 cup chopped cilantro (cilantro cortada)
Soft corn or flour tortillas (tortillas suaves de maíz o harina)
Apply lime juice to the beef. Dust the beef with chile powder and cumin. Slather salsa across both sides of the beef. Cover and refrigerate until it’s time to grill.
Slice onions and peppers into rings. Store in refrigerator. Leave the jalapeños whole. They will be grilled, later.
Prepare the guacamole: The ingredients and the amounts of the ingredients should suit your personal taste. I used 3 avocados, 1 chopped Roma tomato, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons chopped onion, ½ teaspoon garlic salt, ½ teaspoon oregano and the juice of ½ lemon. Mix gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate.
At this point you can clean and prepare the grill and set about to the yard work. Before you head outside to prepare the grill, remove the beef from the refrigerator so that it can warm to room temperature.
After a cool shower and a sip of cold beer, start the coals for the grill. Don’t be shy with the coals. High heat is needed for medium rare beef!
As the coals heat, return to the kitchen and pan fry the onion and bell pepper rings in a skillet. Add a tablespoon of oil to the skillet and then add the vegetables. Stir for a few minutes, remove and keep warm.
Now, back to the grill. Lay the strips of beef on the grill. Find room for the jalapeños and lay them on the grill. Turn the jalapeños frequently to produce a slight char on each side. Turn the steaks after three minutes and grill for another two minutes.
Remove everything from the grill and head back to the kitchen.
Set the jalapeños aside.
Let the steaks rest for five minutes. While the steaks rest, arrange the vegetables on a platter. Add the lettuce, sour cream and grilled jalapeños to the platter.
Cut the steak into ¼” slices and arrange the strips on the platter.
Serve with warm tortillas (and that second beer!)
Fill your days with hard work and reward yourself for a job well done. Cook your steaks with love but don’t cook your steaks well done!