Ah Cinco de Mayo, arguably one of the best of all the feasting days in the calendar. How I love it when you roll around again so I legitimately stuff my face with burritos the size of babies heads. Cinco de Mayo is a big thing in Mexico, it being a celebration of the day they finally kicked the French out in 1862. Being a humble Mancunian girl – whose only experiences of Mexican food for a long time were those horrible ‘Old El Paso’ Mexican food kits – I wasn’t actually aware of its existence until I went to university and found myself studying the history and politics of Latin America and the Caribbean. The memories of my first Cinco de Mayo are hazy, but I do know that they involved many many many Margaritas and may have involved me waking up the next morning facedown in a plate of nachos in the University of London bar.
One of the offshoots of my History degree is that, whilst I am good at remembering important dates, I’m rarely good at remembering to actually do something to celebrate them. Over the years, various Cinco de Mayo‘s have come, and various Cindo de Mayo‘s have gone without me devouring as much delicious Mexican food as humanly possible. This year I was determined to change that.
A few days ago I received an email from those fine people at Chow reminding me of the existence of Carne Asada. I still had some flank steak left over from a recent East London Steak Company delivery (who, by the way, stock some of the best steak I have ever tasted – and they now deliver across the UK. If you’re looking for something which isn’t just tasteless supermarket meat, you should definitely check them out). Somehow, the lure of beef strips marinaded in lime juice, orange juice, cumin and coriander was too much for me to resist and so, last night, after doing my civic duty and voting, I fired up the grill and started making myself and Mr. Cay some damn fine meaty burritos. And, because no burrito is complete without a large dollop of something green inside it, I also whipped up a tasty Guacamole to accompany it, the leftovers of which I ate this morning slathered on some rye bread toast (which may sound a little adventurous for breakfast time, but trust me, it was delicious).
The finished product was everything a good burrito should be – filled with punchy, flavoursome meat interspersed here and there with little hits of citrus and a bit of crunch from the toasted cumin seeds. Plus, I ensured that they were oozing with sour cream and refried beans to boot. Washed down with ice cold bottles of Sol beer, Mr. Cay promptly ate two of these and proceeded to fall into a food coma. I, however, just proceeded to undo the top button of my jeans and lie on my sofa moaning like a boa constrictor who’d just consumed a large deer. I probably gained a stone eating these things, but by God were they worth it.
Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes
You will need:
- 2 thin pieces of steak
For the marinade
- 2 tablespoons of Olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green chilli, seeded and chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground cumin seed (I find it best to lightly toast the seeds first, then grind them finely in a pestle and mortar)
- 1 large handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- The juice of 2 limes
- The juice of an orange
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Place the pieces of steak into a large bowl. Combine the marinade ingredients and pour it over the meat, making sure that each piece is well coated. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
- Preheat your grill, or if you’re using one, a cast iron grill pan. Brush the grates with a little oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Remove the steak from the marinade, making sure that you brush off any excess as the bits may burn and smoke on the hot pan. Season both sides of the steak pieces with salt and pepper. Grill the pieces for a few minutes only, on each side, depending on how thin they are, until medium rare to well done, to your preference (you may need to work in batches to do this).
- Remove the steak pieces to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Then, thinly slice the steak across the grain on a diagonal. Serve in a warm tortilla with the toppings of your choice (although I would recommend refried beans, sour cream, and this rather splendid Guacamole).
You will need:
- 2 – 3 ripe avocados
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tomato
- The juice of a lime
- A handful of fresh coriander (leaves and stems), finely chopped
- A good glug of Tabasco sauce
- First, cut the avocados in half and remove seed. Scoop out the avacado flesh from the peel and plop it in a mixing bowl.
- Using a fork, mash the avocado thoroughly until it’s as smooth (or as chunky) as you like. Add the chopped red onion, the lime, the chopped coriander, the tabasco and a good grind of salt and pepper.
- Next, add the tomato. First, skin it by piecing it and placing it in a bowl of hot water for five minutes or so – the skin should then pop right off. Once you’ve done this, chop it finely, and add it to the mix.
- Garnish with a sprig of coriander if you want to be poncey. Adjust quantities depending on your own personal preference – I like to go a bit crazy on the lime and chilli. I like popping this in the fridge for twenty minutes or so before serving so the flavours all meld together, but, to be honest, it tastes just as good when first plopped onto the foody beverage of your choice.