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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Carne Asada with guacamole and salsa roja

My wife and I love a good steak, and when it comes to Filet Mignon, I must admit with a heavy heart that it is difficult to find it done well in restaurants.  

As such, we find ourselves (or more to the point, me) breaking down whole tenders at home to ensure that we get perfect steaks, and when I show you the cost, you may well consider doing this yourself.
Over the holidays, we had plans for a few good beefy dinners with which to celebrate so it was off to the butcher to pick up some large chunks of meat. 

 I purchased a top round for our Christmas family dinner, and when I process those, I remove the cap and trim it of any films. With the cap removed, it almost, if you squint your eyes, resembles the flank steak. As such, it is great for grilling. A little marinade and you are all set.
Back to the tenderloin, it was a tail to head tender for a total cost of around $49.  As you can see in the picture, from this one piece of meat (and I won’t lie a touch of practice) I was able to yield 8 picture-perfect steaks, enough trimmed chunks for at least 4 kabobs and about 10 ounces of scrap suitable enough for grinding. The grind will go into the freezer vacuum-packed until I get enough to thaw out and combine.
If I only costed (as we say it in the business) out the 8 steaks, that brings it to a respectable $6.13 per steak, but the cost goes down as I consider the ground beef and the kabob meat, so it’s hard to argue the price on this great cut. As a purchaser, if I want to buy good center-cut tenderloin steaks from a reputable purveyor, I’ll spend upwards of $22 per pound. Maybe that will help to explain why Filet is so expensive on the menu.

The beef chunks that came out of the trim and the chain were great complements to the meat-cutting foray and they came in handy on some kabobs and some carne asada, the latter a much more suitable application for the cap from the top round.

Killing two birds with one stone is a natural byproduct when you fabricate your own meats. Yes, it takes some practice, but in the long run, two things happen. First, the meat is customized to your tastes and likes. Secondly, you can utilize practically all of the scraps in grinding and end up saving some money if you are a consistent meat eater.

In some of the better restaurants that I’ve worked in over the years, all of the meat scraps from beef, pork, lamb, bison, venison, et al was saved and ground together, lending itself well to meatloaf, Bolognaise and other dishes utilizing ground meat as an ingredient.  

Having a top round cap in the icebox this week, it was time to get away from the holiday style of cooking and make one of my favorite grilled meats, carne asada, Spanish for “grilled meat”.  Tricky, isn’t it? It can be eaten with rice and vegetables, in a taco, burrito or however your little heart desires.

There is one mystery ingredient in the recipes below that you may or may not be familiar with; Naranja Agria or sour orange juice. This is the juice of the Seville orange, incredibly high acid, ergo sour and great for marinades. The acid helps to break down fibers and afford fantastic flavor and tenderness to meats. It can almost always be found in the Latin section of your local store.

So practice and create your ideal cuts of meat at a great price; a frugal and tasty way to start the year.


carne asada

Meat appropriate for grilling                                                                                                                           1 c. EV Olive Oil                                                                                                                                                 ½ can. Tomato Paste                                                                                                                                        1 c. Sour Orange juice (Latin section of Market)                                                                                    Generous salt & pepper                                                                                                                                        1 Tbsp. Soy sauce

Ensure that gristle is removed and combine with the rest of the ingredients in a marinade bag.  Let sit for at least 3 hours, overnight if possible

Fire up the grill.  Grill until done and serve.  It’s that easy


fresh salsa (season permitting)

2 ea. Medium tomato, diced                                                                                                                              ½ ea. yellow onion, diced                                                                                                                                  1 lime, cut to squeeze                                                                                                                                     ¼ bunch cilantro, chopped

Combine all ingredients and let sit for at least an hour before eating.  For the cilantro, if you want to keep it authentic, use parts of the stem.  This makes it much more perfumed so use at your discretion 



2 soft Avocados, pulped                                                                                                                                   Juice of 1 lime                                                                                                                                                S&P to taste                                                                                                                                                       a dash of Cayenne                                                                                                                                            3 Tbsp. Finely diced onion                                                                                                                           cilantro to taste                                                                                                                                                  1 clove garlic, mashed

Combine all ingredients and mash together.  Chunks or no chunks will be completely up to you


salsa roja

8 ancho chilies, toasted, stemmed & seeded

2 small dried red chilies, toasted, stemmed & seeded

1 qt. chicken stock 

1 can diced tomatoes 

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ ea. yellow onion, minced

1 Tbsp. Brown sugar

1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil

2 Tsp. ground cumin

S&P to taste

1 Tbsp. cider vinegar


Combine everything except the vinegar

Bring to a simmer and cook for three minutes

Remove from the heat and add cider while the sauce is cooling down.