Who doesn't love a good taco? There are endless variations, but similar to our philosophy on burgers, a taco should be awesome with nothing more than tortilla and meat plus seasoning (lime + herbs included). If you want to load your tacos up to the brim with twelve different ingredients, then go for it, but make sure the foundation is superb! The benefit of making your own corn tortillas is that it's fun, easy, and a great group activity. Corn tortillas are actually even more simple to make than flour tortillas. With just 3 ingredients needed (masa, salt, and water), you might just make these a regular part of your cooking routine, garnering you a special reputation amongst your friends and family.
Let's talk about steak for a moment. We need something affordable, versatile, and relatively tender. Ground beef is a perfectly suitable option (see ground beef taco recipe here), but for grilled steak tacos, the Top Sirloin steak is hard to beat. Don't get me wrong, skirt and flank steak are arguably the most popular choices for fajitas, but in my opinion, Top Sirloin is just as great a selection. Not to mention there is more Top Sirloin available on one cow than skirt or flank, so it's always a good idea to vary your steak selections in an effort to cook through the entire animal. Our Top Sirloin is phenomenal with fantastic beefy flavor. It marinates well, but to be honest, you don't need to marinate this steak. Instead, focus on bringing out the natural flavor of the beef and accent it with herbs and lime. This cut is also tender enough to be sliced rather than diced, providing a wonderful toothsome meaty texture versus crumbly steak bits. On to the recipe!
Our recipes lately have been centered around feeding a lot of folks. We love getting together with family and friends, usually at least 8 people, and enjoying a great meal together. The steps here follow a kind of timeline which will help you bring everything together at the end. If you're only feeding one or a few, then you can translate this recipe into something more simple and straightforward. The bottom line is that cooking can be dynamic and intuitive. As long as you have a general sense of the timing and a grasp on a few basic techniques, everything will turn out really well! Starting with great meat is of course essential, but you already knew that.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy to Medium
May we recommend:
For the butter steak seasoning
For the corn tortillas (makes 24 tortillas):
Step 1: Prepare the meat. You will need some time to prep the side dishes, make the corn tortillas, and get your grill hot! We're allowing these top sirloin steaks to come to room temperature with some salt, pepper, olive oil, and fresh oregano. Grilling steak with herbs is a great way to add flavor and also counteract some of the more negative by-products of cooking meat at high temperatures. Rub some olive oil and season both sides of the steak with a generous amount of salt, some black pepper, and a few sprigs of fresh oregano. Turn these steaks halfway during the resting process. I did this about 2 hours before grilling.
Step 2: Prepare your side dishes and get vegetables ready for grilling. Cut the peppers in half and de-seed, trim the green onions, shuck the corn, and bring your black beans and tomatoes to a very gentle simmer. We're NOT going to season or add oil to the vegetables before grilling. I like charring/grilling the vegetables as is because our goal here is really to bring out the natural flavors. The oil would create flare ups on the grill and impart a subtle bitterness while the salt would begin extracting water. If you prefer to season and oil before grilling, go for it, I'm not saying that's a bad thing! I prefer seasoning AFTER they've been grilled.
Step 3: Make the steak butter seasoning. Melt the butter on medium low heat, add the spices (cumin, paprika, lime zest, garlic) and simmer on low for about 30 seconds. Don't cook the butter too hot, we're just trying to infuse the flavors of these ingredients with the butter. Once complete, remove from heat and set aside. We can heat it back up right before applying to the steaks and just before serving.
Step 4: Light the grill and prepare the tortillas. If using a charcoal grill, go ahead and light the fire. It will take a little time to get the coals nice and hot. For the tortilla dough, I recommend doing this in two batches. Measure out 1.5 cups of warm water. Start with 2 cups of the masa harina and 1 tsp of salt. Combine the masa and salt in a mixing bowl. Add half of the warm water and start mixing (I'm using my hands). Now add the rest of the water slowly as you continue combining with your hands. You want to evenly moisten the dough as it's coming together. Break apart big chunks into small chunks, and continue adding your water until it's all incorporated. The dough should take on a cohesive texture where the dry ingredients no longer stick to the bowl or your hands. If it feels too wet, add a little masa. If it feels to sticky and dry, add a little more water. Separate the dough into 3 even chunks, and separate each chunk into 3 pieces, rolling with your hands into a ball shape. You should end up with 12 balls.
Step 5: Cook the tortillas. Now that you've got your dough ready, you can press the tortillas by taking a large ziploc bag and cutting the side seams down to the bottom so that it easily opens. Take a dough ball and place it in the center, cover it with the flap, and press evenly with firm pressure using a flat bottomed pan. They also make tortilla presses that are perfectly suited for this job, but they aren't necessary to get good results. Have a cast iron pan heating over medium heat and lay the flattened tortilla in the center. Using a flat spatula, flip the tortilla over after 10 seconds. Allow it to cook for another 30 seconds, and flip it once again. The tortilla should take about 1 minute to cook. If you see air bubbling up inside the dough, that's a good thing. There are subtle details here which you can improve over time, but there's a relatively low margin of error too so this is great even for beginners. Read more about homemade tortilla making from other sources to perfect this task. Remove the tortilla from the pan and place in a basket with a towel, covering the still hot tortilla as you place them in the basket so that it will create a kind of warm, steamy environment. Continue the process until all of the tortillas are cooked. This is a fun task to get a couple other people going on if you've got kitchen helpers so that you can focus your attention on the meat and vegetables!
Step 6: Grill the meat and vegetables. Arrange the coals into an even layer, and get the grilling grate nice and hot. There's no perfect set of steps to follow here. Our goal is to grill everything so it gets evenly charred and cooked. Here's what I did. Start with the corn, turning it every couple minutes to get a nice even char on the outside. This should take just a few minutes, and then place the corn on the outside perimeter. Now lay the steaks down in the center of the grill, keeping the herbs in contact with the meat. Let this beautiful red meat sear for about 4-5 minutes, and flip once to repeat on the other side. We're going for a relative medium cooking doneness to make sure all the dinner guests are satisfied (some prefer rare, some more well done, medium is a good compromise). The corn should come off at some point during the steak cooking. Check to see that the kernels are tender and plump. Remove the meat from the grill and allow it to rest before slicing, at least 7 - 10 minutes. Now place the peppers and green onions on the grill and repeat, flipping once during the cooking process until they are charred and tender.
Step 7: Assemble the ingredients. Once the steaks have rested and everything has come off the grill, we can slice everything for easy assembly. I decided to cut the corn off the cob and add it to the black beans and tomatoes. Season it with salt and taste (remember, the vegetables haven't been seasoned before grilling). Gently simmer it until ready to serve. Slice the peppers and dice the onions, mixing together in a bowl. Season with some olive oil and salt, mixing together thoroughly and taste. Now slice the meat and arrange it on a tray, pouring over it the warm butter sauce we made earlier. At this point, everything has begun to cool down, so it's a great idea to have the oven set at a low, warming temperature (300) to gently heat everything back up if necessary. Which is exactly what I did right before serving, including the peppers, meat, and tortillas. But don't leave it too long, we're not trying to continue cooking, but just ensure that it's all warm when serving begins.
Step 8: It's taco time! Arrange all the components together on a counter top and allow everyone to self serve. We've added lime wedges, sliced avocados, grated jack cheese, and some fresh herbs to garnish the tacos. Some folks will probably try to load up tacos with all the available ingredients, but may we recommend just keeping it simple by using just tortilla, meat, and garnishes! That way the tacos will eat really easily without falling apart in your hands. However, we do of course encourage taco freedom, but if you notice, many of the delicious street tacos you can find in neighborhoods (or better yet, Mexico!) are typically pretty simple. We hope you enjoy your time with friends and family, centered around great food and quality meat!