The 10derizer's Twist on the Best Carne Asada

Have you ever wondered how restaurants get their fajita meat to always be so nice and tender? Trained Chef Jenn Segal, of onceuponachef.com, asked that very question of the experts, and they gave her the answer.

Restaurants typically use skirt steak for their fajitas. Now I don't know about you, but the times I've attempted to replicate tender skirt steak for my homemade fajitas, I haven't been too successful - my old leather Sunday go-to-meetin' shoes are probably more tender!

Why Are Restaurant Skirt Steaks So Tender?

Most Tex-Mex restaurants buy their skirt steaks already marinated and tenderized from commercial meat processors. These guys marinate tough skirt steak with enzymes that tenderize the meat - and they do their marinating in a commercial vacuum tumbler, which breaks up and stretches out the protein fibers. Furthermore, they add salt and phosphate to help increase moisture retention, making the meat juicier.

Realizing she'd would never be able to duplicate that process at home, Jenn decided to give up on skirt steak and she found a way to make carne asada using a different cut of meat. Jenn's solution? Flat iron steak. An affordable, widely-available cut that’s almost as tender as filet mignon. It's also a cut that's ideal for high heat and quick-cooking methods like grilling.

What You'll Need to Make Carne Asada

Photo of the following ingredients: raw flat iron steak, soy sauce, limes, vegetable oil, raw cloves of garlic, sugar, cumin, chili powder.

The recipe calls for two pounds of flat iron steak. You’ll likely need to buy two steaks but even if you’re able to find a large one, it’s best to cut it in half - the steaks will cook faster and you’ll have more surface area to char on the grill (Jenn adds that her family fights over the charred end pieces!).

The main ingredient in the marinade is soy sauce, which might seem strange for a Tex-Mex recipe. But soy sauce lends that umami - or meaty, full-bodied, and savory - flavor that somehow just makes the meat taste so much better (it doesn’t give the dish an Asian flavor).

How to Make Carne Asada

Now then, the next step in this fabulous carne asada recipe is where I deviated from Jenn's instructions a bit. Instead of simply using a fork to poke holes in the flat iron steak, I used the 10derizer, and it worked beautifully.

To do this, I used the 10derizer about an inch apart all over the steak (one side only). This not only broke up the fibers of the steak, it also allowed the steak to soak up the flavor of the marinade.

Image of the soy sauce, lime juice, vegetable oil, sugar, cumin, chili powder, and garlic placed in a rectangular glass pyrex dish for the oven.

In a dish large enough to hold the steak, combine the soy sauce, lime juice, vegetable oil, sugar, cumin, chili powder, and garlic. Whisk to combine.

Image of the soy sauce, lime juice, vegetable oil, sugar, cumin, chili powder, and garlic all mixed together in a rectangular glass pyrex dish for the oven.

Place the steak in the marinade and turn to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours, turning the steak at least once.

Photo of the two 1-pound pieces of flat iron steak side by side in the spices inside the pyrex dish.

Lightly oil the grill grates and preheat the grill to High. Grill the steak, covered, for 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Photo of the2 pieces of flat iron steak on the grill.

Let the meat rest on a cutting board, tented with aluminum foil, for about 5 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain and serve.

Image of fully-cooked flat iron steak with half of the steak already carved on a cutting board. Side dishes are purple onions, lime wedges, fresh cilantro, and homemade tortillas.

Best Carne Asada

By Jennifer Segal

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 25 Minutes, plus at least 4 hours to marinate

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice, from 2 limes
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 pound flat iron steak *(see note)

Instructions

In a dish large enough to hold the steak, whisk together the soy sauce, lime juice, vegetable oil, sugar, cumin, chili powder, and garlic.

Use the 10derizer about an inch apart all over one side of the steak (one side only). Place the steak in the marinade and turn to coat evenly (it doesn't matter which side is up). Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours, turning the steak at least once.

Lightly oil the grill grates and preheat the grill to High. Grill the steak, covered, for 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let the meat rest on a cutting board, tented with aluminum foil, for about 5 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain and serve.

*Note: You may need to buy 2 separate flat iron steaks to get 2 pounds. Even if you're able to find one large steak, it's best to cut it in half into two smaller steaks - they will cook faster and you'll have more surface area to char on the grill.

What to Serve with your 10derized Carne Asada

Cilantro Lime Sweet Corn

Restaurant-Style Salsa

Guacamole

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche Glaze