Take Back the Grill

Summer is almost upon is, and that means it’s time to break out the charcoal and start flame cooking our food, cuz honestly it is just way too hot to slave over a stove or use the oven. Now I don’t know about you, but I am a grill master. Sure, my partner liked to think he oversaw all outdoor cooking, but shortly after moving in together he learned the truth. If it’s food, it is my domain and I do not like interlopers. If you aren’t as comfortable then by all means go ahead and let your male do the actual cooking of this recipe, but in my opinion, there is nothing more satisfying than making my own fire and then roasting a hunk of meat to perfection over it. The only thing that can make it better is adding in some charbroiled veggies. Luckily, this recipe has both and it is a beautiful marriage indeed.

Here is what you will need:

  • A grill. Yup. This is not optional. I’m a traditionalist, so we use charcoal, but if you’ve got a gas grill that’s fine too. Heathen.
  • 2 lbs asparagus (Zucchini is good in this recipe too, and a great summer produce if you’ve got picky eaters who don’t dig on the tiny edible trees)
  • 1 ½- 2 lbs carne asada meat (SUPER thin sliced strips of steak. Ask your butcher if you can’t find it and they’ll likely be more than happy to custom slice a roast up for you. Seriously, butchers are your best friend, especially when you’re grilling. You want that nice half inch thickness on your chops or steaks? Ask a butcher. Need a pork loin chopped up? Ask a butcher. Want super thick slices of bacon? You got it, ask your butcher. Those dudes rock.)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (I go traditional here, but if you want lower sodium go for it)
  • ½ cup olive oil (Save your wallet the heartache and just go for the “pure” olive oil, not the “extra virgin” nonsense)
  • 1/3 cup lime juice + more for dressing (fresh or bottled, but I like it fresh)
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce (man, even typing that gives me a headache)
  • 1 ½ TBSP roasted garlic powder (or regular, but I mean come on, there is no reason not to go for the roasted)
  • 3 TBSP dried basil (seriously, dried. Fresh doesn’t lend itself as well to a marinade)
  • 1 TSP pepper
  • 1 TSP ground ginger
  • 1 TSP red pepper flakes or ¼ TSP hot sauce (totally optional, and if ya like things spicy feel free to crank that amount up a bit. If you don’t, leave it out. There’s already a ton of good flavor going on here)
  • 1 TSP honey (or brown sugar. But trust me, a little bit of sweetness just brings it all together)

Alright, so as you can probably tell, most of this list goes into a marinade. In fact, that’s our first step, and if you’re like me you’re gonna want to do it the day before, or super early in the morning. The longer the meat is soaking up all those lovely flavors the better. Mix everything but the meat, asparagus and the grill (obviously) in a big ol’ resealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add the meat into the marinade, and move it around a bit so everything is covered in goodness. Seal it up and stick it in your fridge for at least 30 minutes, but as long as overnight if you want. When you’re ready to cook, pull the meat out and drain off the excess marinade then set the meat aside while you deal with your veg.

Give your asparagus a good rinse and chop off the last inch or so from the stems. You can do the bend method to find where it snaps naturally, but I always feel this is a perfectly good waste of half a piece of asparagus so I stick to just trimming that last inch off. If you like, you can reserve the ends and use them to make a veggie stock with later, but they aren’t essential to this recipe so the choice is yours. Once you’ve sorted out that dilemma, get a big pot of salted water going on a nice roiling boil and set up another big bowl with ice water. We’re going to be blanching our little tasty trees you see. When the water is boiling carefully drop in the asparagus, bring it back up to a boil and let them go for a minute or two. You want to keep that nice gorgeous green color on them and a bit of snap, so do not over cook them here. When the minute or two is up, pull the asparagus out and immediately dunk them into the ice water. This stops the cooking process and coincidentally cools them down enough to handle for the next step.

Take two or three pieces of asparagus and wrap them with the steak strips, using one or two pieces of meat as necessary to nicely cover the majority of the asparagus with meat. If you do it just right you won’t need to secure them with anything, but if you’re feeling unsure of your technique then you can use toothpicks to secure the meat ends together. Just make sure you let the toothpicks soak in water for a good hour or so before hand to help keep them from burning on the grill. Now it’s time to take your party outside. You want to have your grill at a nice medium high heat for this, and it’s a super quick cook so don’t go wandering off. Lay the steak wrapped asparagus down on the grill over direct heat, close the lid, wait two minutes or so, and then lift the lid and check your meat. They should get some nice sear marks, if they haven’t, close the lid and leave them be for another minute or two before flipping and repeating the process. When the meat is done to your liking and the asparagus is fully cooked go ahead and transfer those bad boys to a plate and drizzle with a bit of extra lime juice and a shake or two of salt. Enjoy.

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