Carne asada can be used as a dish on its own or can be serve with burritos, tacos, fajitas, and other dishes that require you to fill them with meat. Carne asada just means grilled meat, and the kind of meat it can be may vary. It’s usually beef but can be one of several different cuts of beef.
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Choosing the Right Cut of Beef for Carne Asada
Preferred Cuts of Beef for Carne Asada
Usually, carne asada is made from very thin cuts of beef that may be cooked at a high heat or grilled and may be marinated ahead of time. The beef may also be seasoned with a rub or served with just its natural flavoring.
The Importance of High Heat in Preparing Carne Asada
To get that authentic carne asada texture and taste, you need to cook the meat at a very high heat on a grill. That’s really the most important thing about making this dish. All the other factors can vary from person to person and from recipe to recipe.
Understanding the Best Cuts for Carne Asada
I’ll show you how to cook sliced carne asada in the oven, but you should know which kind of meat to use for it. Yes, this dish is usually made from beef, but which cut of beef would be able to give you that authentic flavor and experience?
Making Carne Asada with Different Beef Cuts
Most people will use cuts of flank steak, flap meat, or skirt steak to make carne asada. All of these are fairly thin cuts of meat with an obvious grain that would traditionally be marinated and cooked over a high flame.
You can use whichever one you like, and most people will go with whichever cut is cheapest. They all work very well for this dish, and every one of these kinds of beef cuts will taste very good when prepared in the traditional carne asada method.
How to Cook Carne Asada in the Oven
I told you just now that is usually prepared on the grill, but did you know that you can make it in the oven as well? How to cook carne asada in the oven?
Understanding Cooking Times and Method for Oven-Baked Carne Asada
It takes about the same amount of time as if you were to put it on the grill, which is around 4-6 minutes on each side. If you were making it on the grill and cooking it at high heat, it would take anywhere from 4 to 8 minutes to cook on each side.
One thing to keep in mind about the cooking time is that it will vary based on how thick the meat is and how much of it you’re cooking at once. You want the meat to cook all the way through and to warm evenly and fully, and that won’t happen if you use the same cooking time for very thin cuts as you would for thicker cuts.
Now you know how long to cook carne asada in the oven, and let’s talk about the method for cooking it.
Marinading the Beef for Carne Asada
You always start carne asada with a marinade, at least for the traditional method. You can leave off the marinade if you want, but if you are marinating the meat, be sure to seal your meat with the marinade sauce in a resealable plastic bag.
Store that in the fridge for a minimum of four hours and up to 24 hours. If you want a really good, thorough marinade, I suggest allowing the meat to marinate for at least 10 hours before trying to cook it up. When you marinate your meat, it is a good idea to flip it halfway through the marinade time.
Steps to Cook Carne Asada in the Oven
Once the meat has marinated enough, it is time to cook it up the oven. How to cook thin cut carne asada in the oven? You want the rack you cook it on to be very close to the broiler in the oven.
Place the top rack so that is resting just 4 inches below the oven’s broiler and set the broiler to high. Place your meat on a baking sheet or in a broiling pan and allow it to broil for about 4 to 6 minutes on both sides.
Tips to Check the Doneness of Carne Asada
How to best cook carne asada in the oven and know that it is done cooking?
The method I have given you is a good guide to go by, but you have to realize that it some cuts of meat will cook faster or slower than others.
You should check the meat to ensure it is cooked all the way through. If you want a medium rare carne asada, then pull it out when the internal temperature is about 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can check that with a kitchen thermometer.
It’s very easy to check the temperature of carne asada meat because the slices are so thin. If you want your meat to be cooked to a medium level of doneness, you can pull it out when it has reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Recipe: Oven-Baked Carne Asada
- 2 pounds flank steak or skirt steak
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- salt and black pepper to taste
- chopped cilantro for garnish
- In a bowl, combine the orange juice, lime juice, minced garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Mix well.
- Place the flank steak in a large zip-top bag. Pour in the marinade and make sure the steak is well-coated. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible.
- Let the steak marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. For best results, marinate overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius).
- Remove the steak from the marinade. Discard the leftover marinade.
- Place the steak on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare or until it reaches your desired level of doneness.
- Remove the steak from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the steak.
- Slice the Carne Asada against the grain into thin strips. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with your choice of sides, such as rice, beans, tortillas, or a fresh salad.
- It’s crucial to marinate the Carne Asada to imbue it with flavor and tenderness. The acidic components of the marinade (citrus juices) help to tenderize the meat.
- Always slice the Carne Asada against the grain. This breaks up the muscle fibers and results in a more tender bite.
- The cooking time may vary based on the thickness of your steak and the accuracy of your oven. Using a meat thermometer can help ensure your steak is cooked to your desired level. For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of about 135°F (57°C).
- Feel free to adjust the spice levels to suit your taste.
How to Cook Trader Joe’s Carne Asada in the Oven
Trader Joe’s makes a very good carne asada, or at least one that’s very popular. It might not be to everybody’s taste, especially because it can be kind of acidic. If you want to copy that and make your own carne asada taste almost identical to what you get at Trader Joe’s, you need to use the right marinade. How you cook it in the oven could be the same way I’ve showed you up above. It’s in the marinade where the secret flavor is.
You could simply just buy Trader Joe’s carne asada from this store and cook it according to the directions I’ve given you. If you’re trying to copy their marinade, however, you need specific seasonings like paprika, cilantro, orange juice, onion, garlic, and cayenne pepper.
Their carne asada cooks very well in the oven, and you don’t have to use the grill at all. You can even cook it in a frying pan if you want, cooking about 3 to 4 minutes on each side for a medium level of doneness.
To cook it in the oven, cook for about four to six minutes on each side, just like the recipe I gave you above.
Final Considerations and Serving Suggestions
When carne asada is cooked properly, it will be thin, flavorful, and tender. You want to be careful about overcooking it and drying it out. You also want to make sure it is well hydrated and marinated so that when you cook it, it will still be soft and tender.
Carne asada should be served hot in most cases, but it can be served cold when mixed with a salad or as part of a wrap. Remember that carne asada is generally cooked on the grill, but it can be prepared in the oven or on your stovetop in a pan. If you buy raw meat or marinated carne asada frozen, you should thaw it out before cooking it. Allow it to sit in the fridge overnight or sit in a pan of water for a few hours to thaw out completely.
What type of beef is best to use for carne asada when cooking in the oven?
The traditional choice for carne asada is flank steak or skirt steak. Both cuts have a rich flavor and a texture that stands up well to the high heat of oven roasting. They also absorb marinades well, which is a key part of preparing carne asada.
How long should I marinate the beef before cooking it in the oven?
For the best flavor, it’s recommended to marinate the beef for carne asada for at least 2 hours. However, if you have the time, letting it marinate overnight in the refrigerator can result in even deeper flavor penetration.
What temperature should I set my oven to for cooking carne asada, and how long does it typically take to cook?
High heat is usually recommended for cooking carne asada to get a good sear on the outside while keeping the inside juicy. An oven temperature of 450°F (232°C) is often used. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of your steak and your desired level of doneness, but generally, it could take around 12-15 minutes for medium-rare. Always use a meat thermometer to ensure the steak is cooked to your desired level of doneness (135°F for medium-rare, 145°F for medium). Allow the steak to rest for a few minutes after cooking to let the juices redistribute before slicing.