Saturday, June 7, 2008

Russ Parsons’ Carne Asada Sandwiches with Avocados and Chipotle Mayonnaise

As I contemplated the menu for a bridal shower luncheon to honor a very special girl, I was befuddled by an unusual dietary restriction: my special girl only likes beef. Dear me, most of my lunch-y repertoire centers around chicken...chicken salads, chicken sandwiches, chicken soup, Chinese chicken, grilled chicken. It cooks quickly, works well with others and offends few.

Time for a paradigm shift.

As I leafed through recipe books, search engines and newspaper food-section streamers, a wrinkled clipping from August, 2003 caught my eye. This grilled beef sandwiches was the solution to my dilemma. Originally intended as a two handed sandwich, I gave it a more lady-like look and transformed it into an open-faced, tea-sized delight, using the pickled onion as a garnish.

I substituted flat iron steak for the round steak, but left the rest of the recipe intact - to rave reviews. Every ingredient played perfectly against the others – and the end result was a little spicy, a little creamy, a little crunchy, boldly beefy -even better than I had hoped.

Chicken schmicken.

Russ Parsons’ Carne Asada Sandwiches with Avocados and Chipotle Mayonnaise
Los Angeles Times – March, 2003

1 red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons lime juice, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs round steak (1/4 to 1/3 inch thick)
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon pureed canned chipotle en adobo, with sauce
2 avocados, halved and pitted
6 bolillo rolls, focaccia rolls or other high quality buns

Rinse the sliced red onion in a strainer under cold running water. Pat it dry, place it in a bowl and cover it with red wine vinegar. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic with 1 teaspoon salt to make a paste. Add 1 tablespoon of the lime juice and incorporate it into the garlic. Slowly add the olive oil, stirring with the pestle to incorporate it too. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, use a food processor.

Spoon half the garlic mixture over the steak, spreading it with the back of a spoon. Season well with salt. Turn the meat over and do the same with the other side.

In another small bowl, use a spoon to beat together the mayonnaise, pureed chipotle and the remaining 1 tablespoon of lime juice.

Cut the pitted avocados into thin slices and carefully peel away the skin.

Grill the beef over high heat. If you’re using round stead, cook about 3 minutes on the first side, then turn and cook for 1 or 2 minutes more. The meat should be medium rare in the center. If you’re using a thicker cut, leave the meat rarer in the center, cooking 6 or 7 minutes per side. Set the meat aside while you build the sandwiches.

Cut the rolls in half and spread with the chipotle mayonnaise, about 1 tablespoon for each half. Arrange the avocado slices on the top half of the roll, then add a couple of onion rings.

If you’re using round steak, cut the meat into pieces roughly the size of the bread and arrange on top of the onion rings. If you’re using a thicker cut, slice it thinly across the grain and then arrange it on the sandwich. Add the bottom half of the roll and press gently to compact everything together. Turn the sandwich right side up to serve.