Steak Tacos

From Best Skillet Recipes, from the Editors of Cook's Illustrated

Reprinted with Permission. Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen.

Steak Tacos

From Best Skillet Recipes, from the Editors of Cook's Illustrated

Reprinted with Permission. Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen.

This recipe is from Best Skillet Recipes, from the Editors of Cook's Illustrated (America's Test Kitchens, $35.00, hardcover with color and black and white photographs and black and white illustrations).

Instead of the more common ground beef, this recipe uses flank steak.  This less costly cut of steak is marinated, seared in a skillet, and then sliced then and served in a soft corn tortilla with a fresh-flavored pesto.  The authors wanted to find an indoor alternative to the outdoor grill, making these tacos a good choice for city cooks who don't have the option of grilling but still want the juicy, big flavor that outdoor grilling promises.

Key to using a flank steak is to slice it thin against the grain.  This makes the pieces very tender to eat.

A Note from the Editors of Cook's Illustrated

"We prefer cooking flank steak to medium-rare or medium; rare flank steak tends to be overly chewy, while well-done flank steak tastes very tough. For a less spicy dish, remove some or all of the ribs and seeds from the jalapeño before chopping it for the marinade. In addition to the toppings suggested below, you can serve the tacos with thinly sliced radish or cucumber, or salsa."

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Making the Marinade:
  2. Pulse the cilantro, scallions, garlic, jalapeño, and cumin together in the food processor until finely chopped, 10 to 12 pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Add the oil and process until the mixture is smooth and resembles pesto, about 15 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the herb paste to a medium bowl, stir in the lime juice, and reserve separately until serving time.
  5. Making the Steak and Tacos:
  6. Using a dinner fork, poke each piece of steak 10 to 12 times on each side. Place the steak in a large baking dish, rub all sides of the steak pieces evenly with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and then coat with the cilantro paste. Wrap the steaks with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
  7. Scrape the cilantro paste off the steak and sprinkle all sides of the pieces evenly with the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Heat the oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.
  8. Carefully place the steak in the skillet and cook until well browned on the first side, about 3 minutes. Flip the steak and sear until well browned on the second side, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, stand each piece on a cut side and continue cook, turning as necessary to brown all sides well, to the desired doneness (see page 9), 3 to 10 minutes longer.
  9. Transfer the steak to a carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  10. Slice each piece of steak against the grain into 1/8-inch-thick pieces. Transfer the sliced steak to the bowl with the reserved cilantro-lime mixture and toss to coat. Season the steak with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon a small amount of the sliced steak into the center of each warm tortilla and serve immediately, passing the cilantro, onion, and lime wedges separately.
  11. Warming Tortillas:
  12. Our preferred way to warm tortillas is over the open flame of a gas burner. This technique gives them a nice roasted flavor. However, you can also toast them in a skillet one at a time over medium-high heat until soft and speckled with brown spots (20 to 30 seconds per side), or warm them in the microwave.
  13. To microwave, simply stack tortillas on a plate, cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap, and microwave on high power until warm and soft, 1 to 2 minutes.
  14. Once warmed, keep the tortillas wrapped in foil or a kitchen towel until ready to use, or they will dry out. If your tortillas are very dry, pat each with a little water before warming.
  15. To warm tortillas over the open flame of a gas burner, place each tortilla directly on the cooking grate over a medium flame. Heat until slightly charred around edges, about 30 seconds per side.

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