Steak Tacos

steak taco

by Karen Frazier

I love a good steak taco on a fresh corn tortilla with guacamole and pico di gallo over the top. It’s so delicious and relatively simple to make. If you’ve never made your own corn tortillas, they are totally worth the effort, and they’re pretty easy to do. Just purchase a simple cast iron tortilla press for under $20, and you’ll suddenly find all sorts of reasons to make fresh corn tortillas.

Note: Since we have started eating paleo, I still use the basic steak marinade recipe, but we skip the corn tortillas. Instead, we wrap the steak and guacamole in tender butter lettuce leaves for a delicious taco.

Steak Tacos

  • 1 (16 ounce) flat iron steak
  • 6 scallions, roots removed and roughly chopped (including green parts)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 recipe corn tortillas (recipe follows) (omit for paleo/whole30)
  • 1 recipe guacamole
  • 1 recipe pico di gallo (recipe follows)
  • Butter lettuce leaves (for paleo or whole30)
  1. Prick the flat iron steak with a fork several times on both sides and season it with salt and pepper. Put the flat iron steak in a large zipper bag.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the scallions, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, salt, lime juice, and olive oil. Pulse the food processor for 10 to 20 one-second pulses, until the vegetables and herbs are finely chopped. Set aside one tablespoon of this mixture and refrigerate in a small container.
  3. Scrape the remaining herb mixture into the bag with the flat iron steak. Squeeze the bag to distribute the herb paste so it completely covers the steak. Refrigerate the steak and allow it to marinade for about three hours.
  4. When you’re ready to assemble the tacos, scrape the herb paste off of the steak and discard it. In a large sauté pan (I use cast iron) set on medium high, heat some olive oil until it shimmers. Add the steak and cook three to four minutes per side for medium rare. Set the cooked meat aside tented with foil while you prepare the tortillas and pico di gallo.
  5. Cut the meat on the bias into thin strips. Put the warm strips of meat in a bowl and toss with the reserved herb paste.
  6. To assemble, place the meat on the corn tortillas or lettuce leaves. Top with a dollop of guacamole and some pico di gallo.

Corn Tortillas

  • 1 3/4 cup masa harina
  • 1 1/8 cup water
  • Pinch salt
  • Juice of one lime
  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until the form a ball of dough.
  2. Separate the dough into 15 equal sized balls and cover them with a damp cloth.
  3. Working one ball at a time, press it on the tortilla press (or roll it out into a thin tortilla shape).
  4. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat. Cook the tortillas one at a time, about three minutes per side until. Wrap the tortillas in a towel to keep them warm until you are ready to serve them.

Pico di Gallo

  • 1 large heirloom tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • Dash salt
  • Juice of one lime

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

photo credit: calamity_hane

Guacamole

guacEver since I was a kid, I have loved avocados. My favorite way to eat them is naked in all their glory, sliced. They are creamy, sweet, and a little grassy with a soft, smooth texture. This past weekend, I mixed up a batch of my second favorite way to eat avocados for a Super Bowl party.

Learning to make great guacamole is not difficult. Many people have turned to premade seasoning packets, but to quote my son, “Those are no good.”

While it seems like opening a spice packet and mixing it in to a bunch of smooshed avocados is, indeed, easier than making it homemade, it really isn’t so much less time consuming that it makes up for the vast difference in flavor between what Tanner calls, “the homemade stuff and the fake stuff.”

Before I give you my guacamole recipe, here are some tips:

  • Hass avocados make the best guacamole. Those are the ones with the dark green, pebbly skin.
  • Avocados should be heavy, but when you place a gentle pressure with the thumb, the flesh underneath should yield but not sink.
  • The skin should be dark green – almost black, but not wrinkled or shrunken. This chart shows you the differences between unripe, perfect, and overripe.
  • I include jalapenos or Anaheim peppers in my guacamole. Anaheim are slightly milder than jalapeno, and both can be made milder by carefully removing the inner ribs and seeds.
  • I like to roast my peppers before putting them in the guacamole, which makes them milder and adds complexity. Roasting is easy. Brush the outside of the peppers with a little olive oil and place under a broiler. As skin browns, turn the peppers a quarter turn and then another and another until the entire pepper is browned. Cool, and then peel the skin and remove seeds and ribs.
  • For a smokier guacamole, replace your peppers with minced chipotle chile.
  • Carefully clean and dry the cilantro. Wet cilantro can make your finished product watery. Remove as many of the stems as possible before chopping.
  • Mix up the guacamole a few hours ahead and let rest in the refrigerator to allow flavors to blend. To keep the guacamole bright green, place plastic wrap directly on its surface, and then cover the entire bowl with plastic.
  • I like to leave my guacamole a little chunky. It makes it far more interesting with chunks of veggies and avocado. I semi-mash about half to 3/4 of the avocados, leaving a few lumps, and then I cube the rest and toss them in at the end.
  • Many people like tomatoes in their guacamole. I don’t add them. I think it makes the guacamole too watery, and I only like tomatoes when they are in season. If you want to add them, go for it, but remove the inner juice and seeds before adding to avoid watering down your finished product.

Here’s the recipe.

Guacamole

  • 2 Hass avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1/4 of a red onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 of a bunch of cilantro, washed with stems removed, and finely chopped
  • 1-2 peppers (jalapeno or Anaheim), seeds removed and finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Sea salt to taste
  1. Place avocados, onion, cilantro, peppers and garlic in a bowl and mix to combine, lightly mashing with a fork to the desired consistency.
  2. Squeeze lime juice over the top and mix in thoroughly.
  3. Add a little salt and taste for seasoning. Continue to add salt a little at a time, tasting after each addition until you reach the desired level.