Bistec de Casa Abuela

30 Jun

As a kid I thought it was perfectly normal to eat tofu with chop sticks, roll galumpkies with my grandmother, steal corn from the field behind the house, apples from the orchard down the road and pick asparagus from my mom’s garden (who would also threaten to turn my pet bunny into hassenpfeffer every time he pooed in the house, (which was fair, he was a stringy old hare) but don’t worry, it never happened, Bandit lived on to torture my dog for many happy years).

But let’s be honest, we didn’t eat the good stuff everyday, there were plenty of meals featuring hot dogs and mac & cheese and stuff purchased from the Schwan’s man. But even mundane meals usually had a special touch. Mac & cheese was always served with stewed tomatoes. It was years before I found this was not a universal. Our spaghetti sauce was made by my mom and I from home grown tomatoes.

One of my favorite things to help my mom with though was making homemade tortillas. She would knead the masa and then I would take a little ball and moooooosh it between the two sides of the cast iron tortilla press. I loved this process not only because it was fun but also because it meant there was going to be one helluvan awesome dinner that night. Maybe enchiladas, or mole, or, oh my god, could it be? Posole!

Head below the jump for a bit more random ramblings and the recipe for Bistec de Casa Abuela.

My mom had a Mexican friend name Eloise who taught her all these delicious dinners. It wasn’t until I was working at an upscale Mexican restaurant that I found out that to most American diners, Mexican food is nothing more than what comes from a box labeled Pace. I had applied to work on the cold line at this resto, but apparently the manager thought I was too cute to waste on back-of-house, so he hired me as a waitress (joke was on him in the end, god I am a singularly awful waitress). But because of this I became friends with the chefs who were impressed with my knowledge and loved to share their nuevo views on Mexican food.

So last Saturday when the skies opened and it looked like monsoon season the boy and I decided it was time to take some of this knowledge and create a dinner in support of the Mexican football side (who, unfortunately eventually lost to Argentina). We grabbed some steak and the fixins for guacamole and as a last minute addition the ingredients for my favorite Mexican salad from childhood (and for once we thought ahead and got enough so the boy’s sister could come over and nosh too).

The marinade for the steak was easy and made the steaks taste lovely, but the star was definitely the guac. It’s damn near impossible to make a bad guac! I loved the lettuce slaw too, but I really don’t think that it is authentic in any way (but tasty to be sure). In fact, the only thing missing were fresh, homemade tortillas….

Bistec de Casa Abuela

prep time: a few hours ~ cooking time: 15-20 minutes

  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs Flank Steak (1/2 lb per person)
  • 1 1/2 tbsps dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp dried Marjoram
  • 3 or 4 Bay Leaves
  • juice of 1 1/2 Limes + the other Lime half
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 2 (or more!) Serrano Chiles
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • extra Lime juice (if necessary)

In the bowl of a Cuisinart or blender combine the dried herbs, lime juice, the halved lime (cut in half!), the garlic, the whole chiles and a liberal pinch of salt. Add enough olive oil to make a loose paste. Set the whole thing awhirl until all the large bits are chopped small. Add more olive oil or lime juice (depending on how you like your marinades to taste) if the paste seems too gloopy.

Place the steak in a large ziploc bag, pour the marinade in. Begin sealing the bag all the while forcing air out (try to get out as much air as possible). Massage the marinade into the meat and place in the fridge. Allow to rest (with a few massage breaks) for at least a few hours.

This meal would most ideally be made on a grill, but, alas, I do not have one so I had to do it on a cast iron grill pan.

Make sure your grill pan is rip roarin’ hot over high high heat. Pull the meat out of the fridge, wipe off as much of the marinade as possible (this won’t be much, it’s rather sticky stuff). Place the steak in the pan and cook about 10 minutes on each side, or longer depending on the thickness and your preference for final internal temp.

When done, allow to rest on a plate under some foil for at least 5 minutes (longer is better). Slice and serve with guacamole and salad (and if I had remembered, some pickled onions, also known as cebolla en escabeche.)


prep time: 20 minutes ~ cooking time: none!

  • 3 Avocados
  • juice of 2 Limes
  • 2 cloves Garlic finely minced
  • 1 bunch Chives finely sliced (white parts only)
  • 2 Serrano chiles very finely minced
  • Salt
  • a handful Cilantro washed and chopped

Very carefully cut the avocados in half (please don’t do this in your hand if you’re using a very sharp knife, do it on your cutting board (it’s too easy to slip and hurt yourself very badly)). Using the end of you knife lightly hit the pit until your knife sinks in, lightly rotate the pit and pull it out of the avocado. Using a towel remove the pit from your knife and save to sprout or discard.

Scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl using a soup spoon. Add the lime juice and mix. Add the garlic, chives and chiles, season liberally with salt and mix to desired consistency. You can also add tomatoes to this, but i feel they make the resulting guac far too wet.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to allow the flavors too mingle. Just before serving add the cilantro stir to combine and enjoy!

Mexican Lettuce Slaw

prep time: 15 minutes ~ cooking time: none!

  • 1 head Iceberg Lettuce finely shredded
  • 1 – 2 Serrano chiles finely minced
  • 2 cloves Garlic finely minced
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic flavored Red Wine Vinegar
  • Lime or Lemon juice
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Chihuahua cheese or if you can’t find that, Parmesan
  • 1 Onion very finely sliced

Place the finely shredded lettuce in a bowl. Toss in the chiles, garlic and salt & pepper to taste. Create a vinaigrette with the oil, vinegar and citrus juices to your taste (everyone like a different balance to their salad dressings!)

Add the dressing to the bowl and mix to combine all ingredients. Sprinkle with a little cheese. Cover and place in the fridge to allow the flavors to develop mixing every now and then.

Before serving add the finely sliced onions and a lot more cheese. Mix and serve with the steak, guac and warm corn tortillas.



4 Responses to “Bistec de Casa Abuela”

  1. Julie June 30, 2006 at 11:08 am #

    Hey, no fair dangling the possibility of posole like that!

    Of course, eating a meal like this does not make it look like you were suffering due to your lack of posole. Marinated flank steak and guacamole sounds pretty darned marvelous.

  2. ann June 30, 2006 at 11:30 am #

    LOL! sorry Julie! I figured the pictures of the steak and guac gave it away, plus i felt like i was babbling!
    i do promise though, that when the weather gets cooler i will be making my mom’s posole which is divine (and i’ll post it too :-)

  3. melissa_cookingdiva July 1, 2006 at 9:05 am #

    Yum! everything looks delicious :-)

  4. lobstersquad July 2, 2006 at 4:47 am #

    I´m so jealous of those childhood meals! I always ate very well, but have never been able to steal apples or corn. I feel shortchanged.
    The marinade looks awsome. I´m always baffled by flank steak, it´s not a cut that they make in Spain, but will try will lomo alto, a favourite.

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