For me, each year Cinco De Mayo kicks off the barbecue season. Even though I did smoke a Boston butt the other week. So what better way to begin this season than a few delicioso recipes! But first, how about a little Cinco De Mayo history?
Without being long-winded, I’ll start by saying Cinco De Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day nor is it an American holiday. It is a day in which 4,000 Mexican soldiers smashed the French and traitor Mexican army of 8,000 at Puebla, Mexico, 100 miles east of Mexico City on the morning of May 5, 1862 and won the battle. Some say those brave 4,000 Mexican soldiers may have even saved the United States — Hence this is why Americans celebrate as well. For the whole story check out Cinco History.
Now back to barbecuing — Mexican style! This first recipe is Beef Fajitas which are a popular dish at local Mexican restaurants as well as American chain restaurants. They are easy to make at home, and this method works just as well with chicken, pork, or vegetables if you do not wish to make it with beef.
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 10 minutes
- 4 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut into large pieces to fit on a grill or in a ridged grill pan
- 3 assorted colored bell peppers, sliced thin
- 1 large red onion or sweet onion, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
- 12 (7- to 8-inch) flour tortillas, warmed
- Guacamole, tomato salsa, and sour cream as sides
In a large, heavy-duty freezer ziptop bag, combine garlic paste, lime juice, cumin, and olive oil. Seal and shake to combine. Place skirt steak, bell peppers, onion, and cilantro sprigs into the bag, squeeze out the air, and turn to coat the meat, distributing vegetables evenly. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight to allow marinade to penetrate.
Preheat the gas or charcoal grill to high heat.
While grill is heating, remove skirt steak from marinade to a platter, shaking off liquid and reserving marinade with the vegetables.
Preheat a heavy skillet to the smoking point. Drain vegetables and cilantro, and quickly stir-fry over high heat until slightly charred and softened, but not mushy. Set aside and keep warm.
Grill skirt steak over high heat quickly until medium rare, about 2 minutes per side. Slice meat against the grain into strips and serve immediately with warm tortillas, the seared pepper vegetable mix, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.
To eat Mexican fajitas, diners traditionally place strips of meat with grilled vegetables, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream into the tortilla, and fold it up taco- or burrito-style.
Notes: Fajitas may also be made with chicken breast or pork tenderloin steaks. If you like your meat spicy, add 1 minced serrano chile to the marinade. If you do not have a gas or charcoal grill, you may use a cast iron or heavy grill pan on the stove-top. It is important that the pan be very hot before quickly searing the meat. An overhead exhaust fan is mandatory for indoor stove-top grilling.
Yield: 12 fajitas, serving 6
Ok. So now we have a main dish prepared, how about a side-dish? Mexican grilled corn is a local favorite and easy to make!
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 4 ears corn
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 lime, juiced
- Red chili powder, to taste
- 2 limes cut into wedges, for garnish
Remove the husks of the corn but leave the core attached at the end so you have something to hold onto. Grill the corn on a hot grill or cast iron griddle pan until slightly charred. Turn it so it gets cooked evenly all over. Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and cilantro together. Grate the Parmesan in another bowl. While the corn is still warm slather with mayonnaise mix. Squeeze lime juice over the corn and shower with Parmesan. Season with chili powder and serve with extra lime wedges.
Yield: 4 servings
Now for dessert I have chose Flan, which is a traditional Mexican custard. The cooking method causes a delicious caramel sauce to form as a topping for the flan. If possible, make the flan a day in advance to give it extra time to set up.
Cook Time: 55 minutes
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 3 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- Pinch salt
To make the caramel: have ready a 2-quart round flan mold and a large roasting pan. Combine 1 cup of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy-bottomed pot or pan. Place over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar begins to melt. Swirl the pan over the heat until the syrup darkens to a medium amber color, about 10 minutes; don’t stir with a spoon. Remove from the heat and immediately add the lemon juice, swirl the pan again to combine, and then pour into the flan mold. Tilt the dish so that the caramel evenly coats the bottom and a bit up the sides, place in the roasting pan and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, bring a kettle of water to a boil for the water bath and keep it hot.
Combine the cream, cinnamon, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium-low flame. Bring the cream to a brief simmer, stirring occasionally. Take care not to let the cream come to a full boil to prevent it from spilling over.
In a large bowl, cream together the whole eggs and yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar; add a pinch of salt. Whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thick. Temper the egg mixture by gradually whisking in the hot cream mixture; don’t add it too quickly or the eggs will cook. Pass the mixture through a strainer into a large measuring cup to ensure that the flan will be perfectly smooth. Pour the custard into the caramel-coated mold.
To create the water bath: pour the hot (not boiling) water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the side of the mold; be careful not get water into the custard. Carefully transfer to the middle oven rack, and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the custard is barely set and just jiggles slightly. Let the flan cool in the water bath, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to serve, run a knife around the inside of the mold to loosen the flan. Place a dessert plate on top of the flan and invert to pop it out.
Yield: 6 servings
What is a party without a few beverages to enjoy?! Here are a few drink accompaniments that would go great with this meal:
- Golden Margaritas made with Cuervo 1800
- Corona Beer
- Dos Equis Beer
- Patron Silver – Neat, On-the-rocks or a Chilled Shot
A special thank you to About.com and the Food Network for supplying these fine recipes (excluding the drink recipes)! Please grill and drink responsibly!