This week I was set to host a midweek dinner party and thought a Mexican spread would be fun. While in the early planning stages of the get-together I almost either forgot (or more likely started denying) how many tiny dishes can go into a taco dinner for 8 people. Little did I think about how I would end up building on the details along the way. You need the taco meat of course, then a pot of beans, fresh salsa, then again maybe two kinds of salsa, guacamole, maybe even homemade tortillas, and so on…it all builds up fast. (don’t forget rice – probably with stock and tomatoes…) At some point you might start driving yourself mad with all of the additions. In the end it was definitely too much prep work for a Wednesday, but it came together nicely and everyone left happy. Oh well, next time I host a weeknight dinner party, I’ll stick to a nice hearty one-pot stew.
This skirt steak tacos were made with a nontraditional recipe from the LA-based chef Roy Choi. It calls for an amazing flavor combination including orange juice, a seemingly excessive amount of ancho chili powder, and a hearty glug of good ol’ Budweiser. The addition of Japanese mirin wine helps give it more of a twist to a traditional Mexican flavors. I mixed up the marinade the night before as it had a ton of steps. I broiled the jalapenos to create a charred exterior, juiced the citrus, and had one extra step that was not specified in the recipe but I ended up having to do: grind my own ancho powder as I only had whole chilies. The skirt steak was added to the mix in the morning for an “overnight” or 8-hour marinade. Really the marinade is a little time-consuming but works like a charm. I will certainly make this again as everyone was raving. The flavor is spot-on, the meat was tender, and it easily pairs with traditional taco accoutrements.
On a side note, we pan seared the steak on a cast iron skillet, as we are apartment dwellers without a grill. The smoke level in the house was intense, like really really thick and not great for when you have guests, but I would do it again with better ventilation and perhaps no visitors to a smoky grease cave. Still, super worth it for the flavor.
The rest of the dishes were super traditional and mostly taken from a falling-apart 25-year-old edition of Rick Bayless’s cookbook Authentic Mexican: Salsa Mexicana, Guacamole, Salsa Verde Cruda, Brothy Beans, Mexican rice, and homemade tortillas. I also made sure to have queso fresco, crema (sorry, store bought!) and chopped cilantro for toppings. Next time I’ll go for a few unique changes in the rest of the spread for fun.
Recipe Credit: Roy Choi, NY Times
Kitchen Mess: 4 out of 4 stars. Red powders, sticky juice, possibly smoke, and all sorts of dirty bowls.
Recommended for: tacos with a twist, large groups, summer grilling
Not Recommended for: midday dinner, food purists