Since this Memorial Day weekend was every bit as lovely as we locals had hoped, most folks were out and about enjoying the warm weather and the extra day off. From activities along the river to the annual jazz festival, to simply getting out and enjoying the sunshine in one of Sacramento’s many parks, the capital city was buzzing with activity. Of course, that included the official start to the BBQ & grilling season, and no matter where you turned someone was grilling sausages, hot dogs, burgers – you name it! My area of Downtown Sac smelled like one giant bacon-wrapped sausage most of the weekend, and it inspired me to crawl into evil closet and whip out my tiny little grill.
Now, I am not the biggest griller. It’s not that I don’t like it, I’m just not so sure I’m always doing things properly. Still, I love any excuse to be outside when the weather’s as great as this past weekend’s, and I truly love the flavor BBQing and grilling can give to almost any food. Especially steak! I know most folks like to do the traditional burgers & hot dogs scene, but throw some lean steak or some skewered shrimp on my grill and I’m much happier. Fortunately, I had some small packages of flank steak defrosting in my fridge and decided the best way to enjoy said steak was to turn ‘em into tacos. I made my own makeshift carne asada-esque marinade so the steak would be super tasty, and I even whipped up a fresh batch of pico de gallo for the occasion (Poor Girl SCORED on pico-makin’ materials at the farmer’s market this weekend!). All I needed was a nice sangria to complete my meal; alas, I had to make due with what I had (LOTS of ice water, lol).
Going this route as opposed to the burgers & dogs can be equally delicious but a lot lighter in calories provided you pay attention to your condiments. The type of meat (not to mention the amount used in each taco) will be a lot lower in fat & calories but will still be loaded with flavor. By using traditional fixings such as chopped onion & cilantro, lime wedges, and pico de gallo as opposed to things like cheese & sour cream, you’re also cutting back on some very sneaky calories & fat grams. And believe it or not, it’ll also help you save money, too! The smallish (for me) batch of pico I made only came out to about $1.75 for the whole thing, and I had enough for 2.5 tacos and plenty of leftovers. Compared to a $3 jar of mayo for some burgers, this is definitely a nice deal and so much better for you. And with just 1-2 lbs of steak and a small packet of corn tortillas (or better yet, make your own), you might just save a bit more money than the burger & dog route. Not to mention the headache of trying to figure out the how-many-buns vs. how-many-hot-dogs-in-a-packet conundrum…..
Grilled Steak Tacos! (serves 3-4 at 2 tacos apiece; total cost per serving: ~$2.10)
1/3 c canola oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
Juice of 2 Key limes
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t ground cumin
2 T sugar (or agave nectar if you have it on hand)
Pinch of salt
6-8 corn tortillas
3/4 c chopped yellow or white onion
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
Pico de gallo (optional)
1-2 avocados, diced (optional)
Place all the marinade ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together until completely combine. Add the steak, making sure to coat each side with the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hrs (overnight is great if you have time!).
Prepare the grill by preheating to medium high and brushing the grill with a small amount of oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Remove the steak from the marinade. Grill the steak for just a couple minutes on each side (otherwise it will get too tough) and remove from heat immediately. When the steak has cooled for a couple of minutes, chop into bite sized pieces or strips.
Warm the tortillas on the grill or on a dry skillet or pan. Place about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of grilled steak in each one and add plenty of chopped onion & cilantro. Serve with avocado cubes, pico de gallo and fresh Key lime wedges, and enjoy!
TIP: For the softest, taco-ready tortillas, sprinkle a couple drops of water on each side of the tortilla before warming. The steam will make them super soft and ready for all the meat & fixings!