Mexican style Cecina(Carne Enchilada) is traditionally thin sliced beef that is seasoned and then dried in the air, sun or smoke. Of course I knew I would not be attempting the air or sun method, watching for flies or a big black bear showing up in my back yard, lol! And as far as the smoke method, I was preparing this through out the early morning, so the oven just worked out better for me. I could have easily just grilled all of it for the tasty asada version, but went ahead and dried half of the recipe in the oven. I have to say, I was not sure when I first saw it come out of the oven. Then as I was cooking it in a little oil afterwards and saw how it came back to life with it’s beautiful red color from the chile guajillo adobo, I quickly changed my mind. For today’s blog post, I prepared the dried version of cecina in the oven and the carne asada version as well. I am still up in the air as to which I enjoyed more. If you like the dried beef machaca, you will enjoy the cecina recipe out of the oven. It was great in the morning mixed with onions, serrano peppers migas(torn tortillas) and with an egg on top. A hearty Mexican breakfast for sure. The milanesa beef I used was extremely thin and the hot charcoal grill was not forgiving. It did stick a little, but all in all the results were delicious! I still have a few tricks up my sleeve and will try this again. Tacos Everyday~
Cecina de Res Enchilada Asada-Chile Marinated Grilled Beef
For Adobo(Chile Marinade)- Adapted from Chef Rick Bayless’s Pork Cecina
10 guajillo, seeded
6 chile de arbol
8 to 10 cloves garlic, skins left on
small piece of mexican cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon ground
1 teaspoon peppercorns or 3/4 teaspoon ground
1 whole clove or 1/4 teaspoon ground
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
You will also need
Beef Milanesa, about 8 pieces (1.2 to 1.5 pounds)
1. Preheat a skillet to medium heat for a few minutes. Add 5 cups of water to a medium saucepan and heat to medium. After you seed and wipe down the guajillo peppers, place them in the hot skillet, along with the chile de arbol and garlic.
2. The dried peppers you only want to toast for a maybe 2 minutes, turning as they become aromatic. Use a metal spatula to press down gently on the dried chiles. Remove from heat and place in saucepan with water that has been heating up. Leave the garlic on for another 6 to 8 minutes, remove from heat.
3. While peppers and garlic are cooking, grind the cinnamon, peppercorns and cloves in the grider or using a mortar and pestle. Set aside. When the chiles in the water come to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the skins from garlic. To the blender, add the garlic, spices, vinegar, salt, 1/2 cup water from cooked peppers and drained peppers from saucepan.
4. Blend the sauce on high until smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little more water. I did not strain the chile sauce(adobo), but would suggest you do. Taste for salt. Reserve about 1/3 cup of chile sauce for later. In a large baking dish, add a little of the remaining adobo, about the same size of the milanesa. Place milanesa on top of sauce. Brush more chile sauce on top. Repeat this process, stacking the beef on top of each other until done. Cover and marinate for 24 hours.
5. When ready to grill, remove the beef from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Prepare your outdoor grill for direct cooking at medium/high heat. Separate the beef if you can ahead of time. I only grilled 4 pieces and the other 4 I reserved for the oven drying method. Drizzle with oil, set aside. Brush grates with oil. Grill the cecina(carne enchilada) for just 1 to 2 minutes per side or until you get some nice color. Remove from grill, tent loosely and let sit for a few minutes before serving. Slice thin or chop small for tacos. Serve with your favorite toppings, reserved chile sauce and salsa.
Tips~ If I were to change only one thing from the recipe is when I grilled it. The milanesa was very thin and I don’t think I added enough oil, so the beef stuck to the grates. Mostly the really thin sections, but the thicker slices were better. Next time, I may try a slightly thicker slice of beef and make sure I add enough oil, both to the grates and the beef before grilling.
The beef does not look very moist, but it was not tough or dry once heated for tacos.
Simple garnish of guacamole, cilantro, onions and lime….some chile de arbol chile oil on the side.
Dried Beef Cecina-In the Oven
These are the beautiful dried beef cecina after cooking in a little oil, combined with onion, tomato and jalapeño. Some of the tastiest tacos!
1. Follow recipe above. After milanesa had marinated for 24 hours, remove from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 175 degrees F.
2. Line the bottom rack of the oven with a large sheet pan in case the beef drips. Carefully lay the thin sliced beef onto metal racks, making sure that they are not overlapping.
3. Place metal rack with beef in the oven. Use a wooden spoon to crack the oven door open. I only cooked one rack of beef, 4 pieces. It took about 1 3/4 hours to cook and dry properly. The meat was extremely thin. Adjust cooking time for thicker cuts of meat. Remove from oven and let cool before carefully pulling beef from metal rack. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator
4. For tacos: Using one section of beef, tear the cecina into bite size pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil to medium heat. Add the cecina and cook for a few minutes. Add 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion, 1 jalapeño or serrano sliced and 1 roma tomato that has been sliced into strips. Season with a little salt and pepper and cook for just another few minutes. Add a little lime juice. Serve with warm tortillas. Garnish with cilantro and your favorite salsa. Yields 4 tacos.
Tips~I place the metal rack directly on the rack in the oven without the baking sheet. This way there is more air and heat circulating around the beef while it cooks and dries out.
After the 24 hour marinate time, it’s ready for the oven.
After less than two hours, the cecina was ready. The part that overlapped wen back into the oven for a few minutes.