Saturday, September 25, 2021

Cilantro-Lime Flank Steak with Mexican Radish Slaw


My go-to steak for all things Mexican is flank steak. Huge beef taste for not much money. While a lot of cooks like skirt steak for Mexican grilled meats, I think flank is the wiser choice. It has better's cooks up better...and it's a lot easier to chew. Skirt steak skirts around the latter issue by making you slice the meat really thin. I want big honkin' pieces of meat to savor when I'm wearing my big boy pants. Skirt steak is more like chewing a plastic bag of rubber bands while they are still in the plastic bag.

Pairing a grilled flank steak with strong Mexican flavors can be a challenge. But this Mexican Radish Slaw is an outstanding pairing for this meal. So much so that there are actually three different ways to serve it up. The first choice is to combine some sliced steak and slaw in a flour tortilla. Second would be to slice the steak and serve it over the slaw. The third way would be my choice....put some beautiful steak slices on my dish and plate the slaw to the side. Pass the Malbec, please.


For the Steak
1 bunch cilantro
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup pickled jalapeño rings*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

One, 1-1/2 pound flank steak

For the Slaw
14 ounces shredded cabbage*
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
1 teaspoon salt

1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 or 2 thinly sliced fresh jalapeños 

  1. Make the steak marinade. Place the first 8 ingredients in a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are liquified.
  2. Place steak in a ziplock bag and pour contents from food processor over the steak. Close bag, toss to mix well. Place in refrigerator to marinate for 4 to 24 hours.
  3. About an hour before you grill, combine the first 4 salad ingredients in a bowl and toss to mix. Set aside. Then remove steak from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Set it on a sheet of foil on the counter let it come up to room temperature. 
  4. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  5. When coals are hot, grill steak over coals for 3 minutes per side. Then remove steak, tent with foil and let steak rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Grab slaw bowl and add cilantro and jalapeños. Toss and put the slaw on each serving plate. Slice steak thinly across the gain and add to the plates. Serve.

* Blogger's Notes: Pickled jalapeño rings are usually found in the condiment section of your grocery store, likely near the olives. To make the slaw easy, buy Dole pre-shredded cabbage/cole slaw in the produce section. Steak cooking time is based on grilling over blazing hot lump charcoal. If you are using briquettes or gas, add 1 to 2 minutes per side. Setting a chunk of mesquite on your coals will add a big wallop of flavor.

Wine Pairing: Malbec

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Air Fryer Pepper Bacon


I am completely in love with my air fryer. This awesome device enables me to pump out shoestring French fries that put McDonalds' fries to shame. Same goes for tater tots...perfectly golden crisp on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth, creamy soft on the inside. The engineering behind it is not rocket science. It's simply a convection oven on steroids deployed in a small cooking area, so that everything comes out perfectly crispy. It's just as effective as deep frying, but with none of the unhealthy baggage that comes from cooking in hot oil.

So to make air fryer pepper bacon, we need to start with the bacon....which comes from the belly region of the pig. Bacon has alternating layers of fat and muscle, unlike pork belly, which has solid layers of fat and muscle. To give bacon it's intense flavor, it is smoked. There are two basic woods used for smoking bacon...applewood and and hickory. For this recipe, I want you to choose applewood smoked bacon.

Here's why. Hickory is your brash, loud, obnoxious little sister. When she walks into a room, everyone shrinks and hides because her personality takes up all the space in the room. Hickory smoke is overpowering. Hickory gets to ride in the front seat of the convertible with an enormous gold crown on her head while bacon is relegated to the trunk, tasked with keeping the spare tire company.

Applewood is your cool, suave and understated older brother. He knows he's good and doesn't need to call attention to himself. Applewood smoke is very subtle. It gives the bacon a sweet, fruity taste with just a delicate wisp of smoke. When bacon and applewood sing their duet, you will know immediately that bacon is the true star.

Now when it comes to pepper, there is no contest. Tellicherry black peppercorn is the best tasting pepper that will ever cross your lips. But to realize that level of perfection, you need to use whole Tellicherry peppercorns and a grinder. There is no substitute for fresh cracked peppercorns. And here's the best news. You'll find my favorite, 14-ounce jar of Kirkland Tellicherry peppercorns at Costco for just $5.49. BAM!

1 pound of applewood smoked bacon
Whole Tellicherry black peppercorns in a pepper grinder

  1. You will have to cook the bacon in batches, as you want to cook each batch of bacon in a single layer. Depending on the size of your air fryer, lay 5 to 8 strips of bacon in a single layer in the bottom of your air fryer.
  2. Grind the peppercorns over the bacon to your level of taste.
  3. Turn air fryer temperature to 390º and cook for 8 minutes (no preheating necessary). Start checking bacon at 7 minutes.

Pairing: Bacon and Pinot Noir is a marriage made in heaven

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Chorizo Quesadillas


Chorizo is a type of sausage....and oh how I love me sausage! It is highly seasoned, used in both Mexican and Spanish cuisine. Mexican chorizo is made with fresh pork (raw and uncooked) and is blended with vinegar and chili peppers. 

Spanish chorizo is made with garlic and smoked paprika. It is sold fully cooked (smoked) and be sliced like salami. Mexican and Spanish chorizo are not interchangeable. So make sure you are buying Mexican chorizo to make these quesadillas.

This is a very easy recipe to make and comes together in just minutes. To make it a complete meal, I like to serve quesadillas with fresh Pico de Gallo salsa and some Mexican rice. When I made this last night for Becky and I, I upped the Scoville units a bit by using two jalapeños. Becky moderated the heat by dipping the quesadillas in sour cream. They were delicious!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Mexican chorizo sausage 
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
4, 12-inch flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterey pepper jack cheese

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet until oil is shimmering. Then add sausage, onion, garlic and jalapeño and cook until meat is brown and onion is tender.
  2. Lay out tortillas. Cover the lower half of each tortilla with 1/4 quarter of the meat mixture and a 1/2 cup of cheese.
  3. Fold the empty top of the tortillas in half over the filled lower half and then cook each for 1-1/2 minutes per side (3 minutes total for each tortilla), using a skillet, grill pan or grill at medium-high heat. Then cut each tortilla into quarters and serve.

Pairing: Pacifico