Nogales Steak Tacos
Serves 6 to 8
For these tacos, look for chuck steaks with a good portion of rib bone and very little of the blade bone-or you can use bone-in rib steaks. The marinade in this recipe will tenderize the somewhat tough chuck steaks adequately, but it adds flavor to the more tender rib steaks too. This makes a superb marinade for fajitas made from skirt or flank steak. Chiles and other Mexican ingredients are available in Latino groceries or by mail order. Begin the recipe a day before you plan to serve it.
Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk together, or put the ingredients into a food processor and pulse briefly. Lay 1 steak in a nonreactive dish. Puncture it all over on both sides with a fork or skewer. Pour half the marinade over it. Put the other steak on top and repeat the process. Reverse the steaks to make sure that both are well coated with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, turning the steaks occasionally to ensure fill penetration of the marinade.
Two 3/4-to-1-inch thick chuck steaks, cut closest to
the prime rib,OR two 1-to-1-1/4-inch thick
rib steaks(each about 1-1/2 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
24 corn tortillas, preferably handmade or the
freshest machine-made you can find)
1 pound mild white cheese, such as Mexican Casero,
California Monterey Jack or Wisconsin Muenster
or brick, cut into 1/4 by 1 by 1/4 inch strips
6 fire-roasted pasilla chiles or 10 Anaheim chiles, sliced,
OR equivalent canned green chiles,
preferably Ortega brand, sliced
About an hour before grilling, remove the steaks from the refrigerator. Soak 6 mesquite wood chunks or 2 cups of mesquite, oak, or hickory chips in water. Fire up a covered charcoal grill with about 60 briquettes or the equivalent of mesquite charcoal. When the coals are completely covered in gray ash and you can hold your hand over them only for a count of three, scatter the mesquite chunks or chips over the coals.
Remove the steaks from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Put the steaks on the grill and cover the kettle immediately. Adjust the vents so that no flare-ups occur. Cook until steaks are done to your liking, 6 to 8 minutes per side for medium-rare to medium. Set aside on a platter and cover with foil to keep warm while you prepare the tortilla/cheese setups.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Briefly heat each tortilla over the direct heat of the grill to soften it (or heat each in a heavy skillet over high heat). Heat the tortillas only enough to make them pliable, so they don't crack when folded over the cheese. Place 2 pieces of cheese on each tortilla and fold in half. Fold 6 or so tortillas, wrap in foil, and keep warm in the oven. Repeat the process for all 24 tortillas. It takes about 10 minutes to heat the folded tortillas in the oven and barely melt the cheese-don't keep them in the oven too long, or the cheese will ooze out. Pay attention to timing: if you put the tortilla packets in the oven when the steaks are done and let the steaks rest for 10 minutes, that should work out fine. You can leave the tortillas in their foil packets for serving or, if you'd like to be more authentic, wrap them in large cloth napkins or dish towels.
To serve, cut the steaks against the grain into strips 3 to 4 inches long and about 1/4 inch thick. Put the bones on a separate platter. Set out the fire-roasted chiles, pickled onions, tortilla/cheese setups, guacamole, and salsas, and encourage your guests to go for it. Pass around the steak bones for true carnivores to gnaw on and toss over their shoulders to the dogs. Beer (preferably Mexican) goes great here, but a spicy Zinfandel would also be delicious.
Nogales Steak Marinade
6 garlic cloves,mashed with 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a mortar
or on a cutting board
3/4 cup fresh sour orange juice(from Seville oranges) OR
1/4 cup fresh orange juice plus 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons tequila (optional)
2 tablespoons ground chiles(Ancho or New Mexico)
1 cup choppedfresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1-1/2teaspoons dried
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
The Complete Meat Cookbook
By Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly
A Chapters Book
16 color photos and black and white illustrations
Recipe Reprinted by permission.
The Complete Meat Cookbook
This page created November 1998