- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes), plus more for grilling
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- 1-2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more for grilling
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely grated
- 3¼ pounds mixed cuts of beef (such as flanken-cut short ribs, rib-eye, New York strip, skirt and/or flank)
- 1 pound fresh chorizo links (about 4)
- 8 large jalapeños, left whole
- 8 large scallions
- 8 flour tortillas, to serve
- 1 pound Chihuahua cheese or Monterey Jack, shredded
- guacamole, salsa, chopped cilantro, refried beans and lime wedges, to serve (optional)
Carne asada is a part of a larger ritual called la parrillada norteña (the northern barbecue) in the northern states of México, much in the same way that a backyard cookout or barbecue is a ritual in the southern United States. There is a fire, some meat, plentiful beer, a grillmaster, and always family and friends. Even in my adopted hometown of Mazatlán, on Sundays families roll their grills right onto the street, seemingly to attract the neighbors. The meaty smoke wafting down my block, laughter, and later into the evening, singing, fills the neighborhood. For this reason, everyone knows to always grill more than you think you need, because friends and neighbors — even if not invited, will always show up.
If you haven't tried carne asada inside a quesadilla, get ready for a life-changing experience. Quesadillas are always served at parrilladas norteñas and at taquerias that serve carne asada. In this recipe, you and your guests have the option of making tacos with the carne asada or stuffing the meat inside a toasted quesadilla with all of that melted cheese goodness.
Technique tip: Ask your butcher to slice the steaks lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick steaks. If you're grilling flanken short ribs, strip, or rib-eye, cut into 2-inch-wide pieces. If you're grilling flank or skirt, slice against the grain into 1/2-inch-thick strips.
Swap option: Swap chorizo for your favorite sausage.
In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice, orange juice, oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the onion and garlic and toss with your hands to combine. Add the beef and toss to coat. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.2.
Prepare a gas grill for two-zone heat: Set one burner at medium-high and one or two burners at high (alternatively, prepare a charcoal grill for high heat).3.
Remove the steaks from the marinade, shaking off any excess and brushing off and reserving any onions that are stuck to the meat. Drain the onions in a fine-mesh sieve set over the sink — discard the marinade and save the onions.4.
Grill the beef over high heat, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.5.
If the onions have fallen apart, they will be easier to sauté rather than grill, unless you have a vegetable grill basket — and if you do, I recommend using it (even if the onions didn't fall apart, a grill basket will help prevent them from slipping through the grill grates). Grill or sauté the onions until they are charred on all sides, for 4 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.6.
Grill the chorizo, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides and cooked through, for 2 to 3 minutes per side.7.
Grill the whole jalapeños and scallions over medium high heat, turning occasionally, until charred and tender, for 4 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with a squeeze of lime juice, a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt.8.
To make the quesadillas, toast one side of the tortillas over the medium-high side of the grill until lightly charred, for about 1 minute. Flip and place a small mound of cheese on the charred side, then fold in half like a taco, and continue to grill until the cheese begins to melt and the tortilla is lightly charred, for about 1 minute. Flip again to char the other side. Transfer to a platter.9.
Serve the quesadillas along with grilled tortillas and you can make tacos or stuff the quesadillas with carne asada, chorizo, chiles jalapeños, scallions, guacamole, salsa and cilantro. Serve with the refried beans and lime wedges for squeezing.
Reprinted with permission from "Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico" by Rick Martínez, copyright© 2022. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.