There’s nothing like sinking your teeth into a hot and juicy steak taco – crunching down on a cold piece of lettuce, savoring a warm layer of melted cheese, tasting the tang then feeling the cold drizzle of freshly prepared salsa dripping down your fingers.
Who am I kidding – the type-A, clean freak inside of me can’t even stand the thought of salsa juice getting all over my hands. BLECH! Let me rephrase…
There’s nothing like sinking your teeth into a hot and juicy steak taco – crunching down on a cold piece of lettuce, savoring a warm layer of melted cheese, tasting the tang then watching the cold drizzle of freshly prepared salsa drip neatly onto your plate.
There, that’s better. :)
Steak lovers unite, ’cause I’ve stumbled upon a recipe for the most perfect, mouthwatering grilled steak tacos with a twist – Steak Tacos with Chipotle Cherry Salsa!
In place of standard salsa, lettuce and cheese, these thinly sliced grilled steak tacos feature smokey homemade Chipotle Cherry Salsa, sweet caramelized onions, crunchy red cabbage, and creamy Monterrey Jack cheese.
The delectable combo of sweet, tart, smokey, and savory, is bundled in a warm corn tortilla to create a 5-bite, hand-held delight that will knock the socks off your friends and family at your grill out this 4th of July.
What’s more, ALL of the taco components including the steak marinade, Chipotle Cherry Salsa, caramelized onions, sliced red cabbage, and shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese, can be prepared a day or two ahead of time, which means all you’ve got to do on the day of is grill the steak and warm the tortillas.
Let’s hear it for more time to drink Beergaritas! (Still working on attaining that recipe…)
Start the Steak Tacos by preparing a quick and easy marinade for the steak. Whisk together 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flake, 2 smashed garlic cloves, salt & pepper. You can make this way in advance, then marinate the meat the day of your grill out.
Next, season both sides of a 1lb flat iron steak with salt & pepper. You could use flank steak instead, btw. This just looked absolutely awesome at the store!
Stick the steak in a ziplock bag, then pour the marinade on top and stash it in the fridge. I let mine sit and soak up the yummy juices for about 2 hours and it was just perf.
Meanwhile get the Chipotle Cherry Salsa ready. THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING EVER!!! Ahem! That is to say, the smoky-sweet-tart combo of fresh cherries and chipotle peppers in adobo is simply genius. (Can we all please acknowledge the extra package of Oreos that Ben snuck into our cart this weekend! As if I didn’t have enough temptation on my hands!)
In a food processor or blender, combine 1/4 cup packed fresh basil (thank you never ending supply of basil from my back garden!)
with 1 clove garlic, 1/4 cup chopped red onion, 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, salt and pepper.
As I mentioned last week, Chipotle Peppers in Adobo are smoked jalapenos, that have a more smokey heat than a spicy heat, if that makes any sense. The taste is unmistakable, and I just love ‘em! :) Tip: freeze the leftover chipotle peppers and sauce flat in a freezer bag, then pop one out as needed for recipes like Chipotle Black Bean Burgers and Chipotle Mango BBQ Chicken.
Next, turn to zee ruby-red summer sirens: cherries! I am so obsessed with bing cherries in the summertime, but definitely cringe at having to pay $4.99’lb for them. Fate smiled on me when I went to buy some for this recipe though, as the price per pound had been temporarily cut in half!
Pit and chop 2 cups cherries, then add half to the food processor with the rest of the ingredients.
Spend the suckers spinning until they’re nearly smooth.
Next add the rest of the cherries and pulse until chunky. I like my fruity salsas on the chunky side, but you could certainly add all the cherries at once and zip it smooth, if ya’ like!
K. Stash the chipotle cherry salsa in the fridge with the steak while you get the caramelized onion taco filling ready. Simply quarter and slice 2 large sweet onions, then saute them in 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until they’re wonderfully sticky and sweet. (Here’s a full tutorial for ya’,)
I highly recommend that you don’t skip out on making these babies, as they add an incredible sweet yet savory flavah that helps balance out the smoky heat of the chipotle cherry salsa.
Chipotle Cherry Salsa: chilling!
Caramelized Onions: sweet & ready!
Time to get grillin’!
Corn tortillas are the shells du jour for these tacos, which we’ll be placing on the grill with the steak to warm up before assembly. Feeling a little frisky, I decided to cut the tortillas a little smaller, so the tacos would be perfectly bite-sized and wee.
All I did was place a wide-mouthed mug on top of each tortilla, then slice around it. TOTALLY not necessary, but you know how I love my mini things. :)
Let the marinated steak come to room temperature on the counter for about 10 minutes, then grill it over rip roarin’ heat for 3-4 minutes a side for medium-well.
Let it rest off the grill for at least 5 minutes, then slice it as thin as ya’ can against the grain of the meat.
While the steak is still grilling, place the corn tortillas over a low flame for a couple minutes on each side until they’re warm and pliable. Wrap the tortillas in foil then place in the oven (no heat) to stay warm while the steak rests.
Top each warm tortilla with a few pieces of sliced steak, a generous dollop of chipotle cherry salsa, tons of caramelized onions, freshly shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, and thinly sliced red cabbage for crunch. IN. HALE.
Steak Tacos with Chipotle Cherry Salsa
For the steak:
1lb flat iron steak (could use flank steak)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
salt and pepper
For the Chipotle Cherry Salsa:
1/4 cup packed fresh basil
1 chipotle pepper in adobo
1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon honey
2 cups cherries, pitted and cut in half
salt and pepper
For the rest of the dish:
2 large sweet onions, cut into quarters and sliced thin
1 Tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
9 small corn tortillas
red cabbage, sliced thin
shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Torn parley, optional
- Prepare the steak marinade. In a small bowl whisk together balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, garlic, red chili pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Season steak on both sides with salt and pepper, then place into a ziplock bag with the marinade and refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
- Meanwhile, prepare the Chipotle Cherry Salsa. In a food processor or blender, combine basil, chipotle pepper, red onions, balsamic vinegar, garlic, honey, salt, pepper and half the cherries. Process until nearly smooth. Add in the remaining cherries and pulse until chunky. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Prepare the caramelized onions. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion slices and season with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and dark brown, about 25 minutes.
- When ready to eat, let steak sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, then grill over high heat for 3-4 minutes a side. Place corn tortillas over low heat on the grill until softened. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing thin. Assemble tacos by placing steak slices on the bottom of the warm corn tortillas, followed by the chipotle cherry salsa, caramelized onions, sliced red cabbage, shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, and torn parsley.
I completely credit my recipe sources for this ingenious combination of flavors including steak, cherries, chipotle peppers, and caramelized onion. I would have never in a million years thought to put them together!
I ended up doubling the amount of chipotle cherry salsa on each of my tacos after I took these photos. It is so dang delish! The chewy caramelized onions were also totally clutch, imo.
If you’re not a steak eater, I think grilled chicken would be amazing in these tacos too. There’s just something about red meat that screams GRILL ME THEN SLATHER ME IN SPICY CHERRY SALSA! though, don’t you think? ;)
One more 4th of July inspired recipe from the files of Iowa MOM Eats, comin’ your way tomorrow! Stay tuned! :D
Hard shell or soft shell? Steak, chicken, ground beef, or veg? Lettuce, or no lettuce?
I have to say, I usually opt for no greenery when I’m eating tacos, as there is nothing more wretched than hot lettuce, but the extra crispy red cabbage in this recipe retained its awesome crunch the whole time I was eating. Granted, it took me less than three minutes to finish but, still, for all three of those minutes it was perfectly crunchy! ;)