Saturday, July 07, 2012

What's on the Grill #247: Grilled Fajita Lettuce Wraps with Tomatillo Salsa

I love food I can eat with my hands: ribs, chicken wings and beer.  Well, beer technically require a glass, but you get the idea.  I also enjoy "wrapped" foods.  The list of items you can stuff into a tortilla is limitless.  Whether it be a planned meal, or a second day take on leftovers, wraps are a great excuse to leave the silverware in the drawer.

Although the tortilla is the all-purpose star of food wraps, romaine lettuce is quickly becoming my preferred vessel.  They offer a little more crunch and a whole lot more health than their rolled flour counterparts.  They are also cheaper, gluten free and an easy way to up your daily vegetable quotient.  Now if they could just hold beer...

Fajita Makings

Grilled Fajita Lettuce Wraps with Tomatillo Salsa
Salsa based on recipe from Epicurious

1 Flank Steak
1 head of Romaine Lettuce

Marinade

12 oz beer (choose something malty/sweet, in this case I went with my Dunkelweizen)
1 clove smashed garlic
1/2 of lime, squeezed
1 bay leaf
1 t pickled jalapeƱo pepper juice
1 t cracked pepper
1 t kosher salt

Salsa

1 pound fresh tomatillos
2 large cloves garlic
2 T chopped jalapeƱos
4 T chopped cilantro
juice of one lime
1 t kosher salt 

Mix together all of the marinade ingredients and add, with the flank steak, to a gallon size zip lock bag.   Allow to marinade in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but ideally overnight.  

Marinating Flank Steak

For the salsa, prep the grill for direct medium heat.  Husk and wash the tomatillos under cold water.  Pat dry and grill until the outsides are lightly charred, approximately 8-10 minutes turning several times throughout.

Grilled Tomatillos

Remove the tomatillos from the grill and coarsely chop.  Add them to a food processor with the remaining salsa ingredients and puree until smooth.  Add additional salt as needed.

Salsa Verde

When ready to grill the steak, remove from the refrigerator an hour prior to cooking.  Prep the grill for direct high heat.

Remove the steak from the marinade.  Discard the marinade and bag.  Pat the steak dry.  

Note:

A dry steak hitting the grill is key.  If the steak is still wet from the marinade, or has moisture on it, the initial contact with the grill will cause the exterior of the meat to steam versus brown.  The meat needs to brown in order to form a succulent flavorful crust (Maillard reaction).  A wet steak from a marinade stands in the way of this and depending on the marinade's sugar content, could set the stage for some bad flare-ups too.  Words to remember: dry steak hot grill.

Generously salt and pepper both side of the steak, then place the steak on the hot grill.  For medium rare, plan on about 8-10 minutes of grill time, turning over once halfway through.

Grilled Flank Steak

Use an instant read thermometer and pull the steak off around 125 F.   Allow to rest, covered in foil, approximately 5 minutes.

The great thing about fajitas is they can be topped with anything.  I added in some roasted yellow and poblano peppers, as well as the usual sprinkle of cheese and sour cream.

Sliced Flank Steak

When cutting flank, be sure to cut "against the grain" to break up the muscle fibers and have the tenderest piece of meat possible.

Finally, pull off and wash the largest leaves from the head of romaine.  From either a plate or hand, load the leaves with the fixings and whatever else suits your fancy. 

Wrap in Hand

 When dinner is done, clean up should be minimal and your belly full.

Lettuce Fajita Wrap

 

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