As the dog days of summer approach, it will soon be too hot to cook in the kitchen. However, the terrace in my backyard is done, the grass has grown in and the trees provide ample shade. It is now time to turn to my Big Green Egg for summer cooking. We have already done steaks, ribs, vegetables and fruit on the grill. It’s time for something new.
Everyone knows about dry rubs, acid marinades and salt brines, but I had completely forgot about milk marinades. The enzymes in the milk start to break down the protein and tenderize the meat. The best example is chicken. Something as simple as buttermilk marinated chicken, then breaded and fried, has been a favorite summer dish for years. You can tweak the breading mixture with herbs and spices or keep it simple with just some salt and pepper. It will always be a crowd favorite.
My latest favorite is a recipe from one of my line cooks from years ago. He would make fajitas with a milk marinated steak, and the entire kitchen would line up for staff meal. I decided to recreate it the other night and had forgotten how good it was.
Start with 2-3 pounds of flank or skirt steak (I prefer skirt). Season the steak with cracked pepper, cumin, coriander and chili powder, but no salt at this point. Next, slice an onion, a red pepper and one or two jalapeños, depending on how spicy you like it. Lay the steak in a deep dish like a lasagna pan or roaster and cover with sliced vegetables, and then pour enough whole milk over to completely cover. This will need at least a couple of hours to marinate. Then it’s time to fire up the grill.
While the steak is still marinating, put a couple of red peppers, jalapeños, and halved onions on the grill to roast. After the peppers have roasted, let them steam in a covered bowl for 5-10 minutes, and then peal the skin off of the peppers and dice. For the onions, peel of the outer burned layer and slice. Mix the peppers and onions together. At this point, get your garnishes together, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, queso fresco or Chihuahua, diced tomatoes, sour cream and don’t forget the tortillas.
Once everything else is ready, it is time to grill the steak. Make sure your grill is nice and hot and the grates are clean. Season the grill with high temperature oil like grapeseed or canola. Pull the steak out of the marinade and place on a dry towel for a minute or two to get rid of the excess moisture. Now is when we season with salt and more pepper. Season the grill one more time, and place the steak on the grill. You can also throw on the veggies from the marinade for added flavor. Cook for two to three minutes on the first side, then flip, and cook for an additional two to three minutes for a nice medium to medium rare. After the steak comes off the grill, let it rest for at least five minutes before slicing. While steak is resting, throw some tortillas on the grill to warm up.
Time to eat. Take a warm tortilla, place a couple slices of steak on first, add your peppers, and then garnish as you choose. This also goes well with Spanish rice. Enjoy good food, good friends, nice weather and no mess in the kitchen.
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