I absolutely love Carne Asada, but I don’t love the price. You may have noticed that the price at the market, or even at your favorite Mexican restaurant, can be a bit outrageous. So, today I will share with you my work around to enjoy this mouth watering favorite without breaking the bank! Here is my surprisingly low cost, Easy Carne Asada Recipe.
At my local meat market they sell thinly sliced flank steak as carne asada. It is an typically priced at and incredible $11.99 per pound unseasoned, and a ridiculous $14.99+ per pound for the pre-marinated variety. In the past I was sucked into the later of these, only to find out that you could barely taste that it was marinated at all. What a waste of money.
A few years ago, I decided to do an experiment. I picked a cheap chuck roast from the case- only $5.99 a pound, and asked the butcher to slice it up. The meat market I go to charges 50 cents a pound to slice it on a slicer, or slices it by hand for free. I went with by hand. The slices weren’t as perfect, but hey, who cares?
I took it home, and did my own marinade, and it came out awesome! Due to carne asada being a very thin cut, it is hardly noticeable that you are using a cheaper cut of meat. And when you season it right, and get that tasty grill char around the edges, you will be drooling in satisfaction for a fraction of the price!
I have done this many times now. the only issue I have had is that some butchers slice the meat better than others, but the majority of the time it hasn’t been a problem.
Why Did I Wait So Long?
This Christmas, however, all my carne asada dreams came true. We received the gift of cutlery! Finally sharp knives. I know it probably sound really stupid that someone who loves to cook as much as I do, and especially someone who loves meat as much as me, wouldn’t own a nice set of sharp knives…but it’s the truth.
Apparently, my (future) brother-in-law, has had to endure our dull knife issue for one too many cook out, and this last Thanksgiving pushed him over the edge, and he did what we should have done years ago. He bought us a nice new set of knives!
They are awesome, and we love them! One of the first meals that came to mind after receiving this great gift was getting to cut my own carne asada! I went out and bought a bottom round for $4.99/lb, and sliced that puppy up (that’s just a saying, it was beef, not an actual puppy).
It was so easy, it was amazing. Now I don’t even have to bother the butcher, and I can cut it perfect every time. I could not be happier! I am able to slice it a little over 1/8 inch thick, which is awesome!
Alright, so we have discussed the meat, lets get on to the flavor!
Here is what you will need: (This is based on about 2 lbs of meat- we like leftovers!)
- Thinly sliced Meat
- 2 limes
- 6 medium/large cloves of Garlic
- 1 bunch Cilantro
- garlic powder
- a splash of beer (optional)
- cayenne powder (optional)
I like to take a large Rubbermaid container and put a layer of meat in the bottom. Season, flip, add layer, season, flip, add layer, etc. until all the meat is seasoned on both sides and in the container. I usually end up with about 4 layers.
If you try to season the meat and then put it in the container you will lose a lot of your marinade on the first dish. You want every ounce of that good stuff to be in with the meat.
Applying the Marinade
As I mentioned above, I do this process in layers. I will explain the first layer, then just repeat for each layer.
- Squeeze juice of half a lime
- Shake on salt- just a light shake, so that all parts of the meat get some.
- Light shake of pepper- again apply evenly, but lightly.
- Shake on garlic powder- you can go heavier with this than salt and pepper, just try to spread evenly.
- Shake on paprika and cayenne- again, a light even dusting.
- Take 1 or 2 garlic cloves and use a garlic press to squish onto each layer and side of meat. Again try to splash it on there somewhat evenly.
- Use about 1/8 of the bunch of cilantro. I just rip off a small handful of the leaves (wash first). Then I hand rip it up into pieces and sprinkle evenly on meat.
- Flip and repeat.
- In the middle layer and on top at the end I often add just a splash of light beer.
- Then when you have it all seasoned, if you feel that you did a great job evenly spreading the flavor over every part of the meat, you can just put the lid on and put in the fridge. Or if you want you can dig in and mix it all together…flipping, mixing, rotating the meat. I try not to do this though because a lot of the good stuff sticks to your hand or utensil.
Let it Rest
If you have time to let it sit over night, that is awesome. It will help get the meat super tender and flavorful. But if you are like me, I rarely plan that far ahead. So I typically get to let it sit for 1 to 3 hours, and it still comes out great. Then I try to take it out and let it get closer to room temperature for about 30 mins prior to cooking.
Grill it Up
Grilling carne asada is about as easy as it comes. You don’t have to worry about getting that perfect medium rare, or really even worry about over cooking it if you are watching it. You just want each side to get a good grilling.
It is all about keeping an eye on it and flipping regularly. You don’t want it to get totally fried in a flare up, but a little char tastes awesome. If you have good hot coals, it takes about 3 minutes or so per side. This can vary a little if you are on a hot spot, or cool spot.
Because I am usually cooking more pieces of carne than fit on my grill at one time, I just keep rotating and flipping the pieces to the good spots until they are all done to my liking. It is a fun and fast paced meal to cook on the grill.
It is nearly impossible for me not to sneak a piece while grilling. It smells so good, and tastes so great, it is irresistible!
Spicing it up
You can use cayenne powder instead of or in addition to paprika. You could also use a spicier pepper dust if you have it. Another way to add some heat is to dice up your favorite hot pepper and add it to the marinade. It will soak in with all the other flavors and add heat.
Just like the garlic and cilantro, most of the bits and pieces will fall off while grilling, but the flavors will have already soaked in.
Easy Carne Asada Recipe- Enjoy!
Now you are ready to enjoy this addicting meal. You can make some guacamole or cilantro cream sauce, cut up some fresh pico de gallo, warm yourself up some tortillas, maybe add a squeeze of fresh lime and enjoy! You can even add a side of rice and beans for a full meal deal.
Well, now that I am sufficiently starving, I think it is time for me to go get started on tonight’s dinner! I hope you all truly enjoy this easy carne asada recipe. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, I would love to hear from you. Pleas feel free to leave a comment below, or you can reach me through the contact form link in the main menu.