Got El Chupacabras Problems? Try a Burrito or Taco Offering
|Photo by Bradford Schmidt|
The Brooklyn neighborhood where I used to live had quite a few burrito/taco bars within walking distance from my apartment. They made obscenely large burritos in two sizes: huge and huger, which actually employed two tortillas. The assembly line offered a choice of marinated meats and a vegetarian option, though I never wasted time or money on it.
When my wife was pregnant, I was sent over to the closest one fairly regularly to buy her a meal that weighed approximately the same as her huge-ass belly. Five minutes after walking in, I'd be on my way back home, freshly grilled steak burritos wrapped and bagged, their weighty goodness tiring my arm and reminding me that we could share with two or three friends if we so chose. Which we did not: You do not get between a pregnant woman and her football-sized burrito, not unless you want a fork through your shoulder.
My other big time Mexican food crush is on the simple taco. I'm not talking about those unauthentic things you get at a certain fast food joint, which may be fine for a rat-sized dog. Which doesn't mean I don't kinda yo quiero them anyway. The tacos I'm really hot for are basic: choose your meat, mix with salsa fresca, sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro, wrap in a soft, not hard, corn tortilla. Serve with a wedge of lime and some hot sauces.
Strangely, it's tough to find those two staples up here in northern Palm Beach County. And I've yet to find a burrito that isn't served drowning in gross sauce, which is an abomination before Quetzalcoatl. Clearly, time to tackle this one at home.
I'm going beef all the way, because that's how I roll. Skirt steak makes a great choice, though sadly they've become overpriced recently, at least in the major supermarket chains. Still well worth the money, though a chef at a local restaurant hipped me to the fact that Spanish markets have cuts like skirt steak and choice tasties like oxtail at far lower prices than the chain markets.
The marinade is key. I went with squeezed orange, lime, and lemon, soy sauce, cumin, chopped jalapeno, chopped garlic, onion, and brown sugar. The marinade goes into a zip bag or covered bowl with the skirt steak, then into the fridge. Turn and massage it often (this also works for your significant other). Allow it to marinate (the steak, not your luvuh) for as long as you can stand it, up to 24 hours.
Then put on a pot of yellow rice. Salsa fresca is simply fresh chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Guacamole should be made last, to keep it from turning brown. Use ripe avocados, minced onion, chopped jalapeno, finely chopped fresh cilantro, diced tomato, lime juice and salt. Simple, really, just remember to drop the tomato in last so it doesn't get crushed when you mash the avocado.
|Photo by Flicker user dorme|
Grill your steak and let it rest for five minutes before cutting. While it's resting, warm your tortilla or taco in a lightly oiled pan. In my house, burritos get everything, plus sour cream. Tacos get just the meat, salsa fresca, extra cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Plate it and stand back.
Either one will keep a crazed pregnant woman or El Chupacabras happily munching away long enough for you to make a safe escape out a back door.
Bradford Schmidt is The Meatist. He's also author of the blog Bone in the Fan. He lives in northern Palm Beach County and likes to keep fresh tacos on hand to prevent pregnant women and El Chupacabras from hurting him.