Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Trader Joe's Carne Asada

Simple foods that make our lives easier is something that most of us strive for.
Often, an at home marinade on a good piece of meat is ideal for those of us who love to cook, but sometimes we can't pass up convenience. Now, I love carne asada. I always have, no matter where I eat it. Mexican food is amazing and flavorful, and I'm the kind of girl who loves meat.

Now, I often have some problems with doing an at home marinade. I often don't have all the ingredients on hand so will have to make a trip to the store. Then I will be in the mood for some carne asada, but don't have the time to throw together the marinade and let it spend the precious time soaking up the flavor. Therefore, I am always on the hunt for a good pre-marinated carne.

I always try to read my labels when buying stuff that is of convenience, like a packet of premixed seasonings. For the record, Trader Joe's has a GREAT taco seasoning packet. It is simply seasonings pre-measured and put together in a packet for you, nothing more, and it's got great spice. To get back on topic, with this carne asada, I bought it because I was stoked that I understood everything on the ingredient list. Water, Seasonings. Done.  In theory, if I knew the measurements, its something I could at least mimic from scratch, if I tried and had the time. For the record, this is their fresh carne asada, I believe they have a different one in the freezer section I have yet to check out. 

So, now that I've got a product I can stand by, I can make a great dinner. One thing I feel I should mention, they use sirloin. I find it great and user friendly because people tend to more commonly have difficulties with the flank/skirt steaks usually used for a carne asada, but this may disappoint others. I find the authentic Mexican flavor more important, and I actually think I may like it better. I've never had to trim it down more, either. Thanks Trader Joe's. I hate paying for the stuff I trim off and throw away.

So I used my nifty cuisinart grill on sear..High heat, short time. 

Whenever you cook meat, LET IT REST! The juices that run over your cutting board when you cut it too soon are so precious and flavorful, so please, trust me and let them redistribute. Usually wait about 5 min. No matter how good it smells!

Tonight, I made a burrito with my carne asada. Put whatever you would like on it. This is what I had in the fridge, and no, I didn't use all the hot sauces, the habanero one is killer, if you love heat.

Extra Tips!
Few ideas that will impress: Heat tortillas in a dry heated frying pan, around 30 sec on each side, brings store tortillas to a new level. Mix salsas for a new flavor, or to add heat or to tone down the heat, depending on your tastes. Slice up some avocados if you don't have time to make guacamole. Dice up some tomatoes and onions, throw in a little salt, maybe some garlic and mash up some avocados..easy guacamole that will still impress. Or, if you go for a packet seasoning for some guacamole, read the ingredient list and pick one that really is just the seasonings conveniently measured for you, and none of the extra 'what is that?' ingredients. 

It was delicious. So flavorful.

Now, I would like to point something out. You can use this meat for ANYTHING. Is it great on a burrito or taco made to your liking? Of course it is! Other ideas and things I have done with it..grill up a small piece, or even pan fry it and make an epic steak and egg sandwich. Or just steak and eggs. Another Idea, that I credit to my father, use carne asada as a base for a steak chili, makes a great flavor base. The flavors are wonderful and authentic, so the possibilities are endless.

If you chose to marinade your own carne asada, that's great, a good idea if you find a recipe you love (tip:read reviews, don't just look at stars), make a large amount and let it marinade overnight. Then throw some in the freezer for future convenience!

I hope you enjoyed this review, of sorts. Happy Cooking!

P.S. The amount pictured above is only a fraction of what was in the package. I was cooking for one tonight and prefer setting aside the meat uncooked so I can make it fresh over the next few days for other uses instead of just microwaving left overs, for added convenience, of course you can cook it all, it does reheat well!

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