Picanha and Flanken Short Rib Tacos with Chef Nate Flaim
By Chef Nate Flaim
It's amazing how many things you can do at once on the Breeo® X30 fire pit. You have the option to slowly roast multiple things and grill over high heat at the same time. With the Breeo X30, cooking for large groups just got a lot easier. With a larger SearPlate™ rim and options for two Outpost™ grills, creating and maintaining the food on the grill is extremely exciting.
Recently cooking for 12 people, there was no shortage of food. I was cooking five picanha steaks, an ox-tail, flowering young kale, bone marrow, poblano peppers hanging from the kettle hook, as well as flanken short ribs on the SearPlate rim with tortillas, limes, tomatillos and onions for the salsa. The possibilities are endless and it inspires cooking creativity.
A picanha steak is one of the most delicious cuts of meat off a steer. It is taken from the top of the rump, right next to the sirloin. Incredibly flavorful, it’s a delight to cook.
I start by trimming the fat cap off the picanha. I want the layer of fat as even as possible, a little less than a ½ of an inch. Take your time with this; you don’t want to cut too much off that you can see the meat, you need that fat.
Once trimmed, you’re ready to cut the steaks. You’ll notice the ends of the steaks are slightly different and uneven - they’re going to be slightly tougher than the rest, so slice about 1 inch off the ends so you have two smaller steaks. You can still use these (they are just as delicious), but they will cook differently from the rest.
Now with the rest of the steak, we are aiming for inch and a half cuts. You should be able to get 3 or 4 nice steaks from the picanha once the ends are trimmed.
Take these steaks and season with sea salt and black pepper. I like to season and let sit, fat-side up, overnight in the fridge. This helps the seasoning penetrate the meat and dry out the surface to ensure a beautiful, flavorful caramelization.
An hour before you're ready to grill, pull out the picanha from the fridge. Never cook chilled meat, especially Picanha.
For these steaks, since they are pretty thick, I like to cook them at a lower heat to start, so the Outpost grill is pretty elevated. I do this because I want the fat to melt and just slowly, slowly roast. When both sides of the steaks have got some love and feel about medium rare, I then prepare to sear over high heat to get the caramelization that I want. I don't want to cook this meat very long, just long enough to get the color that I want. You can use the SearPlate rim, or just lower the grill closer to the fire and caramelize. The color should be a dark, blistered brown.
Let rest with a small knob of unsalted butter and dressed in chimichurri on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Chimichurri adds an amazingly bright, herbaceous note to meat. The two of them together are revolutionary.
Start with two cups of fresh parsley and a ½ cup fresh oregano stripped from its stems.
Next mince these herbs together and place them in a bowl.
Finally, add two cloves of microplaned garlic, one teaspoon of anchovy paste, ½ cup of microplaned horseradish, ½ cup of a good quality olive oil, and two tablespoons of red wine vinegar to that same bowl.
Flanken Short Ribs
This is a fun cut of meat to cook. It's thick enough to get a really great sear on it, and thin enough for it to only take a couple minutes to cook over high heat. For this cook, I continued with the theme and influence of Latin America, since that’s what I was craving.
Two hours before cooking the short ribs, season them with sea salt, black pepper, and a whisper of ground canella. Canella adds a warming, faint cinnamon quality to the meat, and on a taco, it’s divine.
Once the meat is seasoned, start the marinade. In a blender, add two onions, roughly chopped, two jalapenos, one bunch of cilantro, zest of two limes, and the juice of five limes. Puree this all together, and season with sea salt to taste.
Marinade the seasoned short ribs with this puree for at least two hours before cooking.
Charred Onion Salsa
First, you’ll want to start this salsa by hanging three poblanos from the Kettle Hook. That's the first thing I do because they are going to take a little bit of time to slowly roast.
As they are slowly roasting, slice ½ inch wide rings of two onions, season them on both sides with sea salt, olive oil, and place them on the SearPlate rim to caramelize. The onions should be pretty dark on both sides.
When they’re caramelized, mince them and place in a bowl.
Once the poblanos are softer and have some color, remove them from the heat and place in a covered bowl to steam.
Meanwhile, mince two jalapenos, veins and seeds removed, one cup of cilantro, and add to the bowl with the minced onions.
To that same bowl, add a whisper of honey, lime juice, red wine vinegar to taste, and sea salt. Remove the skins, seeds, and veins from the poblanos once steamed through, mince them and add to the bowl.
Stir, season, and add this to the short rib taco.
Tortillas are fun. They are fun to eat, and fun to use over the fire. You can get serious color on them and they will only get better. They’re the ultimate vessel for meat and vegetables.
I LOVE a little char on my tortillas; it adds a little complexity.
First, heat up these tortillas on the SearPlate rim using beef tallow. It adds depth and coats the tortilla with the fat from the meat that is inside the taco itself, what’s not to love about that?
Now, if I were using chicken inside the tacos, I would sear the tortillas in chicken fat, so just follow that pattern.
Once you try it, you won't have your taco any other way again.
Serve up your dishes and enjoy!