What Cut of Meat is Carne Asada?

by Charlie
Carne Asada

Have you ever come across Carne Asada and wondered what cut of meat it is? If you have ever made fajitas, you are probably familiar with the term, but you may still not know what kind of meat it refers to or where on the animal the cut comes from.

Of course, this kind of meat is not solely used in fajitas, and you may have come across it in many other situations, including as a steak that has been marinated and grilled. It is also often used in tacos and burritos. It’s a very popular meat, particularly in traditional Mexican dishes.

What cut of meat is Carne Asada? Carne Asada is a roasted meat that has been marinated thoroughly. It is beef, and the term refers to the flank steak or skirt steak in most cases. This meat tends to be tougher, which is why it is marinated and often used in other recipes, although there are many options for serving it as a sliced steak for the main part of the meal.

Essentially, if you translate Carne Asada, it means “grilled beef,” but that doesn’t sound as exciting and exotic! However, if you’re wondering what Carne Asada is, that’s the simplest explanation, though it is usually taken from the flank or skirt.

What Makes Carne Asada Delicious?

Carne Asada can be very tender when cooked correctly, and it is filled with Mexican flavors, being spicy and strong. It is often eaten with grilled peppers and onions, especially in fajitas. It can also be served as a sliced steak, or chopped into tacos.

The advantage of the skirt and flank cuts is that they will grill very quickly, meaning you can whip up a satisfying meal in very little time. Even the marinade for this steak can usually be made quite fast.

The skirt steak is often fairly thin, and you can pound it down thinner prior to cooking if necessary. This will make it cook faster and ensure even cooking throughout, and it will also maximize the marinade’s effect on the meat.

One of the great things about this meat is that you may only need to cook each side for about three minutes (depending on the cooking method and heat of the grill or pan), and it has a very strong, beefy flavor. It’s an excellent option for the real meat lovers.

Another good thing about these cuts is that they don’t tend to be as expensive as some of the posher meats.

It is worth bearing in mind, however, that these kinds of steaks tend to be a bit tougher, because they are from a muscly part of the animal. Even if you cut them against the grain, this can persist, so to avoid ending up with mouthfuls of chewy meat, let’s explore how to cook Carne Asada well.

If you don’t want to be breaking out a pricey ribeye steak for dinner all the time, it’s a good idea to learn how to cook tougher steaks to maximize their juiciness and flavor, and make sure that they are tender enough to be enjoyed.

What is the Key to Cooking Good Carne Asada?

The marinade is the secret to truly delicious and succulent Carne Asada. Obviously, you can select what ingredients are included in this marinade, but common ones include soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, spices such as cumin and chili powder, and sometimes lime juice and a pinch of sugar.

You need to marinate the beef for quite a while in advance, but it’s important to remember that besides preparing the marinade, this is a hands-off step. That means that even if you don’t have a lot of time to prepare dinner, Carne Asada can be quick if you have begun the marinating process in advance.

If you don’t have time to marinate the meat, you may find that it isn’t very enjoyable, even in a fajita or burrito.

The second trick to making Carne Asada enjoyable every time lies in not over-cooking your meat. We all know that a heavy hand in cooking the steak can ruin even top-quality, soft meats – so overcooking a fibrous one like Carne Asada is just a bad idea. If you don’t like your steak rare, you may struggle with these meats.

Bear in mind, however, that the flank steak is often more tender than the skirt steak, and can therefore be cooked more thoroughly if you don’t enjoy rare meat. If you cook a skirt steak heavily, it can end up chewy even with a good marinade and plenty of time to absorb the juices.

However, skirt steaks are often more intensely meaty, so if you don’t mind a more fibrous steak, they are perfect for you. If you prefer slightly more tender steaks, go for flank steaks.

They are both pretty similar, so you may not notice a significant difference unless you actively compare the two. Both should be cut against the grain to keep them from being too chewy to enjoy.

What Meals Use Carne Asada?

Since Carne Asada is essentially just grilled beef, you can use it in any meal you choose, but it is most commonly found in Mexican cooking. Tacos, burritos, and fajitas all make use of this kind of meat, taking advantage of its intensely meaty flavor to enrich the foods. You can also serve Carne Asada as a main, with a side of salad or potatoes.

If you want a meal in which the meat is the dominant flavor and really carries the dish, Carne Asada is a prime ingredient to include. Anyone who loves grilled steak will enjoy this marinated meat, and whether you want to use it in recipes or just eat it from the grill, it’s perfect.

Final Thoughts

Versatile and flavorful, Carne Asada is a cut of beef, and usually the flank or the skirt. Sometimes people use the term to mean grilled meat, and some people refer to other cuts using this term, but this is the most commonly accepted meaning.

This sort of meat is versatile and tasty, and loved across the world – not just in Mexico.

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