Monday, September 5, 2011

New Camping Recipe: Carne Asada Tacos

I may have mentioned that we always have steak the first night of camping. Often we just lay a big, fatty steak on a hot grill, season it with salt and pepper and call it a day. But when we have it together enough to plan something nice, this recipe of Pete’s is a great option. 

Most of this gets prepared at home the day before! What's easier than that?

The meal consists of:

1. Tortillas, warmed
2. Carne Asada (grilled, marinated beef brisket)
3. Pico de Gallo (fresh salsa)
4. Rocoto hot pepper sauce
5. Sliced avocado
6. Chopped white onion and cilantro
7. Ice cold beer
8. Optional: rice and beans

Make everything the night before. All you need to do at the campsite is grill and slice the meat, warm the tortillas and slice the avocado. Genius, right?

Beef Marinade

5 lbs. beef brisket (a nice, fatty meat)
6 cloves garlic, pressed
salt & pepper, 1 t. each
1/4 c. beer
1/4 c. lime juice - the juice of 2 juicy limes or 4 not-so-juicy limes

1. Mix together the pressed garlic and salt & pepper.
2. Rub the meat with the garlic and salt & pepper and place it in a dish with sides.
3. Mix together the lime juice and beer and pour over the beef. Cover with plastic. Marinate overnight*, turning the beef at least once. 

*You don't have to marinate the beef 24 hours, but it's great if you do! It's also great if you marinate it only an hour. But at least for an hour.

LIME TIPS: When you buy limes, look for the old ones. They are soft and have more juice. Also, Hispanic stores have limes about 1/4 the price of those in the supermarket.

CAMPING TIP: Marinate the beef in a large Ziploc bag, then you can pack it right in its marinade.

Pico de Gallo

½ white onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
handful cilantro, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalepeno pepper (optional), de-seeded and finely chopped
salt & pepper, 1 t. each
squeeze of lime juice
½ t. cumin (optional)

1. Finely chop the first 5 ingredients.
2. Mix all the ingredients together.
3. That’s it! Put it in an air-tight container and refrigerate. Keeps best in a glass container, like a mason jar.

Rocoto Sauce (hot rocoto pepper sauce)

The rocoto pepper is a very hot, very flavorful Peruvian pepper. It is hot enough that you may want to consider wearing gloves when de-seeding it. Look for rocoto peppers in the freezer section of Hispanic food stores. If you can’t find them, you can use any hot pepper with this recipe, like jalapeno or aji.

1T.-1/4 c. olive oil, depending on how rich you like the sauce (we use 1-2 T.).
3-4 cloves garlic
¼ c. vinegar. Colavita vinegar has a nice, tangy flavor, unlike some vinegars that have a winey, alcohol flavor.
squeeze of lime juice
1 rocoto pepper, de-seeded
you can add a little water to extend quantity.

Throw everything in the blender and blend until smooth. Keeps well in a glass jar.

How to Cook the Steak

1. Remove the meat from the marinade.
2. Over nice, hot coals, grill the steak about 5 minutes on each side.*
3. Let the steak sit for a few minutes after it comes off the grill. Then slice it into thin strips, about ¼” thick.
4. As you slice the steak, season it lightly with salt on all sides.

*We like our steak rare, but well-done Carne Asada is fine. The fattiness of the meat and the marinade mean the steak retains lots of flavor.

TIP: While the steak is cooking, warm the tortillas. If the fire is really hot, 30 seconds per side will do. Stack them and they will keep each other warm, just like hamsters.

How to Assemble the Taco

Let everyone assemble their own and put whatever they want in it. Here is a sample assembly:

1. Warm tortilla
2. Sliced steak
3. Sliced avocado
4. Pico de gallo
5. Rocoto sauce (too hot for most kids)
6. Extra chopped white onions and cilantro
7. Roll up and eat.


Pete likes Negro Modelo, a dark, crisp, sweetish Mexican beer. I’d rather have a pilsner-style beer, like Pacifico or Corona. And I’ll take a Caguama, please, the super-sized 31.8 ounce bottle!

Whatever beer you choose, make sure it is ice cold – if you don’t have ice, submerge a bag with a couple of six-packs in a nearby river, lake or stream, tied to a tree root or something else that isn’t going to float away. And …

¡Buen provecho!


  1. I love this recipe. Am gonna have to try it and I'm not even gonna wait until we go camping!!!I also love the fact that most of the work is done before hand. Smart and simple!!!

  2. JATunnell, you and I think alike - I just saw on your camping blog you brought a festive meal on your last trip - all frozen and ready to go. That's what I call living, not spending the whole trip cooking.