Today I am featuring a recipe I came up with on the fly a few weeks ago. To me, this is a much more flavorful alternative to a regular ol' Taco Tuesday. Here's how I switched it up:
First, I made tostadas instead of tacos. You can usually find tostada shells on the bottom shelf of the tortilla aisle of your grocery store. They had them at my BiLo in the Charleston suburbs, so they are probably easier to find in more metropolitan areas. I like tostada shells because not only are they fun to eat - just pick the whole thing up and take a bite! - they also offer a lovely presentation on the plate.
Second, I used skirt steak instead of ground beef. In my opinion, ground beef can be too greasy and also tends to roll all over the plate. Again, my BiLo came through for me and had a great price on skirt steak. Flank steak would also work well. Flank and skirt steak both have this deep beefy flavor and great marbling that keep the meat juicy while not being too fatty. All they need is a good marinade and you can throw them on the grill!
Allow me to talk to you about my obsession: pineapple white balsamic vinegar.
In the last few years, specialty stores focusing on infused olive oils and vinegars have been popping up all over the nation, including in Beaufort, SC where my grandparents live. While my husband and I were visiting them last month, we walked along the main street and I stopped by this shop, Olive the Above. I think I spent the better part of an hour in there sampling butter flavored olive oil (it's vegan!), garlic infused olive oil, raspberry balsamic vinegar, lavender balsamic vinegar, and so on. But my absolute favorite was this pineapple white balsamic vinegar. It has this sweet pineapple flavor that really comes across and the tang from the vinegar itself is just strong enough to balance out the sweetness. In short, I was looking for a way to put it on EVERYTHING.
So the first thing that came to my mind was - marinade! The acid from the vinegar is perfect to break down some of the fatty tissue in both skirt and flank steak.
For the marinade: mix together 1/2 cup pineapple white balsamic vinegar**, 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 2 tbsp ancho chili powder (it's a smoky, mellow heat), 1 tbsp ground cumin, a sprinkle each of salt and pepper, and 1/2 - 1 whole cup of vegetable oil.
Pour all marinade ingredients into a large Ziploc bag, seal it, and smush everything together with your hands. Taste it to see if the flavors are balanced - you should get a little of the fruitiness from the vinegar, a little heat in the back of your throat, and you should be able to taste the oil. You want to put enough oil in the marinade to evenly distribute the flavors all over the meat, but also so the steak won't stick to your grill.
Now that you've tasted it and made any needed adjustments, add your steak to the bag! This can marinate for 1-3 hours.
**If you don't have or can't find pineapple balsamic vinegar, worry not! Add in 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup pineapple juice instead.
After you've marinated the meat, preheat your grill or grill pan on medium-high heat. Grill for 15 minutes, 6-7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove the steak from the grill, place on a cutting board, and let rest under aluminum foil while you get the rest of your tostada ingredients together.
These are the tostada shells. Warm them through in a 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Or put them in your toaster oven on Warm for 3-5 minutes. Just don't let them burn!
The toppings I chose were: salsa, sour cream, shredded iceberg lettuce, and shredded Cheddar cheese. Not pictured here: refried beans, avocado slices, and a lime wedge.
While the steak is resting and the shells are warming up, open a can of refried beans, pour them into a pot with a splash of your favorite hot sauce for some moisture and a little kick, and stir until they are warmed-through and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
Slice the steak against the grain into thin pieces.
To assemble: Place a warm tostada shell on the plate, spread on some refried beans, then top with 2-3 slices of steak, and any other toppings you like!
You guys, these were so delicious. I may have to make them again tonight. The creamy beans hold together the crunchy shell when you bite into it, so it doesn't fall apart like most tacos. The meat is perfectly juicy and tender, the salsa adds a kick that the sour cream and avocado mellow out, and the squeeze of lime brings a freshness to it all.
The beauty of this recipe is that you don't have to make tostadas for 4 people, you can make enough for just you! All you have to do is heat up as many tostada shells as you want (I usually have two). Save the leftover skirt steak for a quesadilla tomorrow, or put together a green salad with steak on top. Mix together the leftover refried beans and shredded cheese, heat it up and bam! Bean and cheese dip perfect for an afternoon snack. I beg y'all to make these tonight!
Here's the recipe!
Food that maximizes flavor and minimizes effort and time.