We've asked Jorge, our sister Becky's husband and our family Grill Master, and Figs, our Siete familia's Culinary Expert, to answer a few questions about what 'Carne Asada' means to them! If you've met Jorge and Figs or had the pleasure of eating their food, you know that their skills at the grill and in the kitchen are top notch. And if you haven't had their food yet, come on over—everyone's welcome!
Jorge Cuellar is our family's Grill Master Extraordinaire, and he is also Siete's Facilities and Safety Manager. Outside of work, he can be found welding, playing guitar, hanging out with his family, and of course, grilling. When we host backyard asadas, we always hit up Jorge to grill. His grill skills are unmatched! Fun Fact: Jorge was a firefighter for 10 years prior to working at Siete.
Q: "CARNE ASADA": TACO FILLING OR GATHERING?
JORGE: In its infinite virtuosity, carne asada is both a taco filling and a gathering! It fills up tortillas, and eventually bellies...But it is also DEFINITELY a gathering of great folks and food. So, while carne asada is a scrumptious cut of meat (usually beef) slowly cooked over a fire, it is also an atmosphere where conversations are shared, corridos are played, and after a handful of adult beverages, bread is broken.
Q: NO BACKYARD ASADA GATHERING IS COMPLETE WITHOUT ____.
JORGE: No backyard carne asada is complete without LOVE... and great music!
Q: BEST SOUNDTRACK FOR A BACKYARD ASADA GATHERING?
JORGE: Music at a backyard carne asada is a crazy phenomenon that might take hours to explain. The short answer to this question is: Selena, Bobby Pulido, Los Huracanes del Norte, Los Cadetes de Linares, Little Joe y La Familia, Intocable, Duelo, and so many other amazing artists. Those listed are just a few of the groups that get blasted at my backyard carne asadas, and if you want to get a taste of what it sounds like to come over to my place for carne, feel free to enjoy this playlist! These are the songs I've always got on my speaker at my place while grilling.
Q: IF YOU COULD INVITE ANYONE TO A BACKYARD CARNE ASADA GATHERING, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU COOK THEM?
JORGE: This is too easy… Who I'd invite would not be a famous actor/actress...or a historic figure of some sort. If I could invite anyone to a carne asada I was hosting, it would be every single friend that I’ve ever had in my life, childhood to present. And as for what I'd cook, I'd make sure I'd grill all of the basics: Beef fajita, grilled chicken, sausage and beef and/or pork ribs. I'd want this to be my best work though!
Q: CARNE ASADA (TACO) IN ONE WORD:
Q: BACKYARD CARNE ASADA (GATHERING) IN ONE WORD:
Chef Andrés Figueroa, aka “Figs,” is one of our very own culinary geniuses. He's worked with our sister, Veronica, to create many of our favorite foods—the tasty and heritage-inspired products we love to share with all of you. He is part of Siete's Culinary and Innovation Team, and is our go-to expert in the kitchen. Fun Fact: He won second place in a National Risotto Competition!
Q: WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF A CARNE ASADA TACO?
FIGS: If tacos are the perfect food, carne asada tacos are the pinnacle of perfection. To me, there are four essential parts: a good tortilla, a well seasoned filling (beef fajita an obvious go-to), salsa, and a squeeze of lime juice. Then, guac and a “slap” of beans (an actual carne asada taco term) are beautiful but non-essential additions. My favorite part though—the part that ties it all together—is a wood fire. Aside from the innately satisfying aspect of building a fire and gathering around it with close ones to prepare a warm meal, fire has an essential role in flavoring the meal. It adds a lingering acidic note of smoke and that bit of char that plays so well with the savory hit of a well-seasoned beef fajita. Cooking tomatoes and peppers over a wood fire adds a layer of complexity to salsa that is unmatched by any other method of preparation, and blistering tortillas over a fire is always the proper final step of a carne asada—the chef’s kiss if you will. This final step will interlace every piece of a carne asada taco together!
Q: THE SECRET INGREDIENT TO A GOOD CARNE ASADA TACO IS _____.
FIGS: As I mentioned before, salsa is essential to a great carne asada taco, and it's always great to have a variety because everyone likes different styles of salsa! A perhaps less common one that goes beautifully with vegetables, fish, and carne asada is a salsa de chiles torreados. This salsa entails chiles serranos charred over the fire, sliced thinly, mixed with a generous amount of fresh lime juice, equal parts soy sauce (or coconut aminos), and a splash of avocado oil. This salsa is especially good with some avocado added to your taco.
Q: IDEAL BACKYARD CARNE ASADA GATHERING MENU?
FIGS: First, know who’s coming and make sure you have something for everyone. In terms of classic proteins to have, I recommend: beef ribs, skirt steak (fajita), chicken thighs, and sausage—these are the essentials! If you’re having over vegans or vegetarians (and even if not), you've got to have refried beans, quesadillas, and pretty much every vegetable that tastes better cooked over an open fire (broccoli, corn, and sweet potatoes being some of my personal favorites). Aside from that, salsas, rice, and avocados a plenty are all you really need. Part of the beauty of carne asada is that it's less cooking inside and, in turn, less clean up afterwards, so don’t go crazy with sides! Use compostable plates, and give yourself time to enjoy your friends and family. That's what it's all about.
Q: WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO EAT A CARNE ASADA TACO?
FIGS: First, make sure you have a tortilla warmer filled with recently heated tortillas. Grab as many tortillas as you want tacos and scoop a spoonful of avocado from a recently opened ripe one on top, mash it on your tortilla with the back of a fork, and sprinkle some salt all over. Then, add your protein, salsa, beans (if you’d like), and, of course, a squeeze of lime. Now, take that beautiful first bite. Laugh with your friends and/or family, listen to music, and just take it all in. Finish your taco, and repeat until you just about can’t eat anymore. Then grab one last tortilla and use it to pick up everything you’ve dropped on your plate along the way.
Q: FAVORITE TORTILLAS FOR A CARNE ASADA TACO?
FIGS: I’m an Grain Free Almond Flour Tortillaloyalist—for obvious reasons, it's so delicious—but the Grain Free Chickpea Flour Tortilla blisters beautifully over an open fire. Any tortilla will do though—just use your fire! 🔥
So, there you have it! Carne asada is both a delicious taco filling and a warm backyard gathering with family and friends over great food and drink. It's also our family's favorite way to gather and our family's go-to for birthdays, holidays, and everyday get-togethers. There's nothing quite like sitting outside with your loved ones, smelling the smoky aroma of a fire burning and meat grilling, and indulging in refreshing beverages and chips and salsa galore!