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Marinated Steak with Herbs (Carne Asada con Hierbas)

The recipe for this steak began with one from Mexican cooking authority Diana Kennedy, who received it from an acquaintance, Antonio Sanchez. She also knew a person who used serrano or jalapeño chilies en escabeche for a marinade, juice and all. This version combines the two recipes. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of large section beef tenderloin, 2 1/2 to 3 lb. and 2 inches thick 
  • 1 can (14 oz.) pickled serrano or jalapeño chilies, with liquid 
  • 1/2 cup safflower or canola oil 
  • 4 garlic cloves 
  • 1/4 white onion, coarsely chopped 
  • 4 large fresh marjoram sprigs or 1/2 tsp. dried 
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs or 1/2 tsp. dried 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

Directions:

Place the beef in a shallow glass baking dish. In a blender or food processor, combine the chilies, oil, garlic, onion, marjoram, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Process to form a puree with some texture. Pour the puree over the meat, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours, turning the meat once or twice.

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover.

Remove the meat from the marinade, brushing off any excess. Place on the grill rack and sear for about 10 minutes. Turn the meat over and sear the other side until well browned, about 7 minutes. Push the coals to one side of the grill bed, place the meat on the grill rack not directly over the coals, cover the grill and cook for about 6 minutes more for medium-rare. Do not leave the meat on the grill too long, as it will continue to cook when it is removed from the grill.

Transfer the meat to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the meat diagonally across the grain into strips 1/2 inch thick. Arrange on a warmed platter and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Mexico, by Marilyn Tausend (Time-Life Books, 2000).