“Men will cook if danger is involved,” writes comedienne Rita Rudner, which pretty much explains my love for the barbecue. I once bought a quarter of beef and it had so much fat in it that I kept a garden hose and baking soda handy whenever I delicately placed a slice on the grill.
I still get kind of misty-eyed when I remember the good-old days of the orbital-shaped barbecues, mounds of charcoal and a can of lighter fluid. The initial spine-tingling “whoosh” created by tossing a match on a mound of charcoal, soaked with a pint of lighter fluid, was an experience that could leave a lasting impression on a young boy.
Really, the only thing missing was an explosion accompanied by a towering ball of flames. (Our family routinely barbecued a modest distance from the house and garage.)
This segues nicely into today’s delightful offering of Flaming Fajitas.
For this, you will need a one-pound top-sirloin steak about three-quarters of an inch thick, one lime, two minced garlic cloves, two tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, one-half cup finely chopped, pickled jalapeño peppers and two tablespoons reserved juice, one onion cut into strips, one red pepper cut into strips, one tablespoon vegetable oil, one teaspoon chili powder, one-half teaspoon ground cumin and four pitas.
Marinate the steak in a large freezer bag that seals with a combination of the finely grated peel and juice of the lime, Worcestershire sauce, half of the garlic, jalapeños and their reserved juice. Pierce the steak all over with a fork before sealing in the bag to enable the marinade do its thing for an hour.
After removing the steak from the marinade, discard the leftover marinade and cook the steak on a medium-high grill where three to four minutes per side will get you a rare steak. Let the steak stand off to the side for five minutes or so while you toss the vegetables with the oil, remaining garlic, chili powder and ground cumin.
Cook the vegetables in a vegetable basket and stir them occasionally while on the grill. Slice the steak into thin pieces, cutting across the grain, and tuck everything you have prepared into a nice warm pita and top with salsa.
“Oh my goodness, we are out of fresh salsa!” is a cry you should never hear in your kitchen. Salsa means “sauce” in Spanish and is also known as Pico de Gallo. Making a tasty salsa is so easy that the guy wearing the barbecue apron can do it.
For this, you will need a non-reactive mixing bowl, three ripe tomatoes, an onion, a large jalapeño pepper, two limes, one-quarter cup cilantro, a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper.
Start out by seeding the tomatoes (plum tomatoes are good for this) and cutting the onion, jalapeño, garlic and tomatoes into small pieces. Combine these in the mixing bowl. Tear the cilantro into small pieces before adding (this will bruise it and help to bring out the flavour). Then squeeze the juice of the limes over the mixture and stir in the salt and pepper.
This simple operation should take only about 10 minutes if the guy with the apron on hasn’t had too many cactus colas. And, kept covered in the fridge, the salsa should stay fresh for a week.
Anyone else remember Mexican jumping beans?