Recipe: Steak Fajitas with Marinade

Grilled Steak Fajitas

Steak Fajitas

I don’t know where or when I got it into my head that I needed to make steak fajitas…I think it was as simple as a passing comment, either on the Internet or elsewhere. I do not own a BBQ, nor the adequate space for one, so any outdoor grilling I do is commandeering others through the kindness of others who will allow me the use of their barbecue. Thankfully, this whole week I am house and dog sitting ~ and the house in question has a BBQ that can only be described as space age alien technology. From the outside, I mean. Double the width of standard ‘cues, this sucker has both coal and propane capabilities – plus a searing station, plus a James Bond-like briefcase full of state of the art grilling tools. After the homeowner showed me how to use the machine and gave a very strong promotion for propane, I set out determined to use it every night of my stay here. So far, so good.

The inaugural meal, though, needed to feed three people – and one of these friends had never tasted my cooking before. So of course I had to pull out all of the stops. Enter: steak fajitas. You’ll notice I hardly give any measurements on the marinade, and that is because I eyeballed it. I listed the spices in order of greatest amount to least amount, though, so that ought to give you some indication of how much to put in.

Steak Fajitas Homemade Marinade
Steak Fajitas Marinade

You’ll Need
1 lb. skirt steak

garlic powder
onion powder
chili powder
sweet paprika
smoked paprika
red pepper flakes
pinch of ground ginger
1 tsp prepared mustard
white pepper
celery seed
Kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 fresh limes, juiced
1/3rd cup low-sodium Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs sugar OR honey (go with buckwheat honey if you’re feeling bold)

  • Combine your marinade ingredients in a small mixing bowl and combine well.

  • Dunk your raw steak into the bowl before placing into a freezer bag along with marinade. Seal and marinate for 3-6 hours.

  • At the end of marinade, place meat in a rectangular pan and take it to your grill. Discard marinade

  • Once your grill is really hot and ready for meat, gently lay the meat along the grill. Grill 2-5 minutes on each side.

  • Let your steak rest. I repeat: let your steak rest for ten minutes

  • Cut against the grain, serve on warm tortillas with grilled onions, pepper, mashed avocado and Roasted Shallot Yogurt Sauce (recipe below!)

  • Fajitas Condiments
    10 baby bellpeppers (orange, yellow, red), thinly sliced
    1 red onion, thickly sliced
    10-20 pearl onions, skins on

  • In a big mixing bowl, place your sliced peppers and drizzle enough olive oil to coat well

  • Place sliced peppers at the center of a generous sheet of aluminum foil and wrap tightly

  • Repeat with onions

  • Place these foiled pockets onto the grill, indirect heat and grill for about 15 minutes before you begin your meat

  • When soft and tender, remove from grill and serve atop the finished fajitas

  • Roasted Shallot and Garlic Yoghurt Dip
    Roasted Shallot Yogurt Dip

    Roasted Shallot Yogurt Dip
    1 cup plain Greek yogurt
    1 large shallot
    1 small shallot, finely minced
    6-8 garlic cloves
    1 tbsp olive oil

  • Preheat your convection oven (or regular oven) to 325

  • Place the large shallot and garlic in the center of a generous sized sheet of aluminum foil, skins on. Drizzle liberally with olive oil

  • Wrap foil tightly around shallot and garlic, making a pocket. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until soft

  • When done, let them cool slightly before squeezing garlic out of its skin and into a small bowl. Mash well

  • Finely chop the roasted shallot

  • In a medium mixing bowl, add finely minced raw shallot and chopped roasted shallot, garlic mash and Greek yogurt. Incorporate well.

  • Transfer mixture to an airtight container and drizzle with the 1 tbsp olive oil. Refrigerate overnight.

  • You can use this dip as a substitute for sour cream, French onion dip, etc. It’s great with vegetables, chips or to dollop atop your fajitas!

    I had enough leftovers to eat fajitas the next day, and decided to go L.A. style with a fusion of Mexican and Korean by adding kimchi to my fajitas. Best. Idea. EVER!

    Steak and Kimchi Fajitas
    Kimchi Steak Fajitas



    The Park’s Finest (Echo Park)

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park

    Due to my own self-imposed rules of not posting more than one media event per week, I get a little behind. Back-logged with media invitationals is not a terrible aspect of ones life, though I do feel guilty for being unable to have a quicker turn around time. However, bloggers posting about their “freebies” is a sore spot for a lot of people, one that I have not addressed head-on as of yet (and don’t worry, I will) and adhering to the “one media event per week” is a rule I am going to stick to for the time being.

    All right, enough with the idle rambling – onto the food! Back in October, I was invited to The Park’s Finest, a barbecue joint in Echo Park owned and operated by the Concordia family, along with their life-long neighborhood pals, the Bautista’s, Pajimula’s, and the Araquel’s, who tell their story in better words than I can ever do justice:

    “Established in 2009 as a small-scale catering company, the family business has grown each year. With support from family, the block, and community, The Park’s Finest was able to open its doors to the public in January 2012. The Park’s Finest now functions as an eatery near Downtown L.A. that provides fast casual convenience with a sit-down dining experience.”

    We all sat family style, cozying up to strangers; familiar faces in the home grown food scene of L.A., bloggers, Yelpers, journalists and family friends alike. In fact, I invited my big brother to accompany me this evening, which deepened my enjoyment of the evening as I could relate to the feelings of family that The Park’s Finest wanted to emphasize.

    As if their enthusiasm and passion for their food and business wasn’t clear enough, photo albums were made (pictured above) for every guest to help underline the message of family and community which The Park’s Finest stands for. I still have my copy, and I intend to keep it as long as possible. Detailed touches like these are soul-bearing, and I respect the level of vulnerability these good people showed a handful of strangers by sharing their story.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    Coconut Beef
    smoked chuck roll, cubed, and stewed in a coconut cream

    My. God. I want it. All of it. I really could have had this dish all night long and been a happy camper. I’m not going to lie; it doesn’t look significant in the least, but this dish packs a hell of a wallop in flavor.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    San Pablo Pulled Pork
    sixteen-hour slow-roasted pork shoulder

    Though I am generally not a fan of pulled pork, once I experimented with the two sauces available to us – a sweet and tangy vinegar sauce and a savory slightly sweet sauce – this heap of pork was transformed. Secret is in the sauce!

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    Smoked Banana Leaf Salmon
    olive oil, lemon pepper, pink himalayan salt, house pepper blend, house garlic blend

    Salmon will never be my favorite. Unless it is in raw sashimi/sushi form, I am not a fan.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    Ann’s Cornbread Bibingka
    Cornmeal/Rice flour mix, baked on a banana leaf

    As I prefer cornbread to be on the sweet side, this was a home run for me. I especially enjoyed the sugary crusted top.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    Eagle Rock Brewery Manifesto Wit

    I think the description of this is so incredibly fantastic that I cannot top it: “Belgian-style ‘wit-bier’ or white ale has a light wheat base and is typically spiced with coriander and citrus peel. for a unique twist, we add rose petals as well. manifesto wit is pale straw-colored and slightly hazy in appearance, with invigorating citrus, floral, and spice aromatics.the light body and subtle sweetness of this beer accentuate the peppery flavor produced by the yeast.these lively flavors, combined with the slight tartness in the finish, create a crisp and refreshing experience. it’s sunshine in a glass!”

    Aside: I want to get paid to write these kinds of descriptions. I don’t know if I truly tasted that many levels of awesomeness, but it was a mighty tasty beer nonetheless.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    Ligaya Veggie Medly
    zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms and red pepper

    My brother was just about dying from meat overload when these arrived, satisfying his desire to balance out his meal.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    Mt. Malindang Pork Ribs
    seasoned, slow-smoked St. Louis style pork ribs and rib tips

    A touch too fatty for my liking. Ribs are tricky, and I’m particular about them.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    Beef Tri-Tip
    tender, deli-thin season-crusted sirloin beef paired with homemade horseradish sauce

    When tri-tip is done well, as these were, it can be positively magical for the tastebuds. This sampling as one of my favorites, along with the horseradish sauce.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    Candy Coated Ham
    coated with signature BBQ sauce every half hour for 12 hours

    Quite easily, the best ham I have ever eaten. Tender, juicy ham with a richly sweet sauce…it will convert all of you “Honey Baked Ham” purists in a heartbeat.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    corn off the cob served with mayo, fresh parmesan cheese & cayenne pepper

    When I taste something like elota and my first thought is: “Oh, Jeebus, how do I replicate this glorious dish?” I know someone in that kitchen is doing something right. I really need to gussy up my corn dishes.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    Beef Short Rib
    a smoked, seasoned, meaty beef rib paired with house own crema horseradish sauce

    Unless it’s lamb, ribs really aren’t my thing. I find them to be prone to dryness and all-too easily caught in ones teeth. I only had the smallest of bites of this beef rib, and cannot truly comment on it.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    Gabi Greens

    I wasn’t into these Filipino tubers, as they tasted like bitter collared greens, but my brother heaped them onto his plate. Dig in, bro.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park

    I’m not one for turkey outside of the obligatory Thanksgiving holiday, but I would dig into a stack like this one with no problem. Every piece was moist and bursting with flavor of its own natural basting. I imagine this turkey is the kind of turkey Ben Franklin envisioned for our great country when he suggested the noble beast be our avian representative.

    The Park's Finest - Echo Park
    Cornbread Pudding with Salted caramel top

    The dessert was provided by friends at Crème Caramel LA, known for their gourmet approach to bread pudding. This gorgeous dish left me curious to want to explore more of CCL’s offerings.

    It was at this point the good folks at The Park’s Finest realized we could no longer consume any more of their fine fare. In a stroke of mercy and genius, they packed up the two remaining meats and passed around doggy-bags to take home. In them were the hot link medley (smoked, sliced spicy sausages with sweet filipino longanisa) and chicken wings. These, along with candied ham were taken home and enjoyed for my lunch the next day.

    My Top Picks: Coconut Beef, Candied Ham, Cornbread, Tri-Tip and Elota. I could have died from the food coma this night gave me, but after having tasted these five items in particular, I would have gone with a smile on my face. I have every intention of recommending The Park’s Finest to all who ask, and returning in the (hopefully, soon) future.

    The Park’s Finest
    1267 W. Temple St.
    Los Angeles, CA
    Phone: (213) 481.2800

    The Park's Finest on Urbanspoon

    Gus’s Barbeque (South Pasadena)

    Gus’s BBQ has been a mainstay in South Pasadena since the 1940s. It was the place to go to satisfy a craving for reasonably priced cocktails and old fashioned BBQ. You could almost be guaranteed to find any number of the local colorful characters at the bar in the back, and patrons from high chair days to senior citizens dining in the main room and front dining areas. All of this small town class was threatened when Gus’s underwent a change of ownership and renovations in 2008, and my friends, mother and I feared the worst. I smugly resisted the revamped Gus’s, focusing my attention on my other favorite bbq joint, Robin’s. However, for some reason or another, in 2010 either hunger, curiosity or an empty wallet got the best of me and I joined my mother in crossing enemy territory.

    Well, hell’s bells. It was good. Damn good.

    We’ve gone back half a dozen times and I’m trying to branch out with other dishes. Here are the highlights of my most recent visit to Gus’s Barbecue:

    Country Fried Steak - Gus's Barbeque

    Order: Chicken fried steak with country gravy, creamed corn and garlic mashed potatoes.
    Verdict: Amazing! I never had CFS before, and this one set the bar very high for future orders. Their gravy was home-comforting wonderful. The garlic mashed potatoes, while good, were definitely not garlicky enough for my liking (I should have probably told the waitress that I am not afraid of lots of garlic) and the creamed corn was a sweet side treat. Its consistency was neither gelatinous nor soupy, but an ideal combination.

    Fried Chicken - Gus's Barbeque

    Order: Fried chicken with a side of apple cider gravy, garlic mashed potatoes and braised Southern greens.
    Verdict: While the chicken was moist on the inside, crispy heaven on the outside, the potatoes weren’t garlicky enough to really warrant being called “garlic mashed potatoes” and the greens were too bitter to consume. The gravy was too tangy/apple-vinegar tasting, leaving a sour-sweet rather than rich gravy taste. My suggestion to get the greens more palatable is to saute them in garlic oil.

    Chicken and Waffles - Gus's Barbeque

    Order: Fried chicken and waffles with syrup.
    Verdict: Heavenly balance between savory and sweet, exactly what my sister was going for. Generous portions of cornflake fried chicken & golden toasted waffles gave her enough leftovers for another meal.

    Notable mentions: The Fremont Burger, red skin potato salad, Old Fashioned Cobb salad, BBQ shrimp salad, homemade milkshakes and the beer braised Texas brisket sandwich.

    Upon closer inspection, Gus’s IS still family-owned and operated, just not by the original family. The new owners, however, sport a grade-A resume with the additional ownership of Tops, a mainstay in American diner food in Pasadena. Their dedication to keeping top quality fare flowing from Gus’s kitchen is sure to keep me coming back for more. PS: I was relieved to see one of our towns more colorful curmudgeons slinking out into the windy, dark night, warmed only by booze and the comfort of knowing Gus’s is still a welcome refuge for the waywardly weird.

    Gus’s Barbecue
    808 Fair Oaks Avenue
    South Pasadena, CA 91030-2606
    (626) 799-3251

    Gus's Barbecue on Urbanspoon