October 18, 2013

Carne Asada - Thin grilled meat in a delicious marinade

There are a couple dishes in America that we make using the name that originated in another country - even though officially the name is a bit silly when it's translated.  I'm thinking of what we call "Shrimp Scampi" and everyone knows it's shrimp cooked in a garlic butter sauce - except the word 'Scampi' literally means;  shrimp.  So, really, the name of the dish would be "Shrimp Shrimp!"  This kind of, almost falls in to that category.  Carne Asada means 'grilled meat' which would encompass a variety of recipes.  Still, that is what this is often referred to and there are a kazillion different versions.

Basically, I bought the thin cut steaks because they were pretty affordable, and made up a recipe for the marinade by blending about 5 different recipes into one based on what I had on hand, what sounded good and what I thought I wanted the finished product to taste like. Interestingly enough, I actually had El Pollo Loco Grilled Chicken on my mind when I made up the marinade for this.  I knew I wanted a beef that had a tangy citrus lime hint to it.  

 "In Mexican cuisine, carne asada is made from thin marinated beef steak. 
The meat is marinated by rubbing with salt or with spice rubs such as lemon and pepper 
or garlic salt and lime before being cooked on a grill."

This ended up being a big hit in our family and my husband suggested we should start regularly buying the thin cut steaks as they absorb the marinade so well, you get flavor in every bite.

Carne Asada Marinade

1/2 c soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T vinegar
1 small jalapeno pepper, chopped fine
1/3 c lime juice
1/4 c lemon juice
1/2 t either chipotle seasoning or cayenne
1 T (scant) chili powder, cumin and paprika
3/4 t dried oregano
1/4 c fresh parsley (you can use cilantro)
1/2 c oil (preferably olive oil)
pepper (about 1/2 t) but not salt as the soy sauce is very salty

Place all in a ziploc baggy (double bag) or in a ceramic or glass container, and add about 2 pounds thin steaks or other meat.  Let marinade overnight.  Grill until done, slice across the grain and serve.  I opted to serve with tortillas, salsa, sour cream, cheese, avocados and lettuce.  

*Updated because, gosh darnit Ideal stopped making the brown sugar sweetener!  Had to update the links!

O' Henry Bars.  These hold a special place in my little ol' childhood heart.  We didn't eat many sweets in our home but at church events or at school functions where there was punch and cookies after, I would search the cookie table for two treats;  pumpkin bars and O'Henry Bars!  It was like a mini Christmas.   I could never make these myself as a young little cook as we only had 1 'recipe box' of hand written index cards and 1 cookbook; a Fanny Farmer cookbook given to my Mother at a bridal shower in 1968.  It had neither recipe of course.

As an adult I'm thrilled for the availability of millions of recipes at our fingertips through cookbooks, magazines, websites, smart phone apps and more.  But even with all these fabulous recipes at my fingertips, my family's favorite, number one, all time 'bar' is O' Henry Bars.

This week I made them but I made 2 batches.  One regular, the way Grandma made them and a second, half batch in which I used natural sugar substitutes.  I used Ideal Brown Sugar and Just Like Sugar as it is what I had on hand.  We also have natural peanut butter on hand that is only 3 grams sugar and the chocolate chips I used were Hershey's Sugar Free.  They turned out wonderful!  Links will be available at the bottom of the post.

O' Henry Bars

2/3 c butter, soft but not melted
1 c brown sugar or Brown Sweetener:  by Just Like Sugar

4 c oatmeal
1/2 c corn syrup or sugar substitute w/ just enough water to make it thick
2 t vanilla
pinch salt
1 c chocolate chips or sugar free chocolate chips
2/3 c peanut butter

Mix the soft butter with the brown sugar with a spoon.  When incorporated, add the oatmeal, corn syrup, vanilla and salt.  Press into a lightly sprayed or greased baking pan of your choice.  9X13 is a great size.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (less for a really dark pan).  Cool.  Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter.  Spread on bars.  Chill or let set until the chocolate sets up.  I like to store in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate nice and firm as we currently live in the deep (hot and humid) South! 

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