Skirt Steak and Naan ‘Tacos’
Chef Nettie Colón’s recipe combines a piri piri marinade with pineapple and onion pepper relish for a meal that just might upstage Mother Nature
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Every camping trip needs a showstopper meal, the kind you can look forward to after a full day of navigating the wilderness. Nettie Colón’s steak tacos are that showstopper meal. Hearty and robustly flavored, they’re built on a foundation of naan, a “beautiful bread,” Colón says, that she favors here for its sturdiness and pliability. While you could conceivably use any cut of meat in these tacos, Colón points out that skirt steak is quick to marinate and cook over the fire. “It’s easy to just put it in a Ziploc bag or vacuum-seal and take in the cooler,” she says. (As a bonus, both the chimichurri and piri piri sauce can also be made days ahead.)
Colón’s pineapple onion pepper relish, meanwhile, boasts versatility along with flavor: You can (depending on your knife skills) either finely chop the fire-roasted bell peppers, onions, and pineapple to go on top of the tacos, or cut them into larger chunks for a side dish. As a smoky side, the grilled vegetables and pineapple, combined with the tacos, make a hearty meal — and we guarantee you’ve never really tasted pineapple until you’ve had it grilled over a fire.
Skirt Steak and Naan ‘Tacos’ With Pineapple Onion Relish and Chimichurri Recipe
Serves 4 to 6
1 ½ pounds skirt steak
½ cup piri piri sauce (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 pieces naan
Pineapple Pepper Onion Relish (see recipe below)
Chimichurri (see recipe below)
Cut the steak crosswise into large (4- to 5-inch long) pieces and put them into a quart-size zip-top bag. Add the piri piri sauce, seal the bag, and turn to coat. Marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or chill up to overnight in the refrigerator, tossing occasionally. (You can also marinade before leaving for the campsite.)
Let the steak sit at room temperature 30 minutes before cooking to ensure even cooking. While the steak sits, prepare the fire with a hot side and a cool side. Once the coals are ashed over, remove the steak from the bag and carefully seal up the bag (or place it in a reusable plastic container) to discard later. Rub the meat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill the steak until medium rare, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. If the steak begins to drip fat and the fire flares up, move it over to the cool side of the grill.
Transfer to a cutting board and let the meat rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing it against the grain.
While the meat rests, grill the naan bread until warm and softened. Divide the sliced steak between the warmed naan and top with the pineapple relish and chimichurri.
Pineapple Onion Pepper Relish and Side Dish Recipe
Makes 2 cups relish, plus a big bowl of fruit/vegetables to serve as a side dish
1 fresh pineapple, cut in half lengthwise, leaves and hard outer skin cut away with a sharp knife.
2 red bell peppers, whole and unpeeled
2 poblano or Anaheim peppers, whole and unpeeled
1 medium red onion, peeled and left whole
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
Salt and black pepper
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced (optional)
Brush the pineapple, peppers, and onion with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill the pineapple and the vegetables over a hot fire, turning them occasionally, until they are charred all over; about 10 minutes for the peppers, 20 minutes for the pineapple and onion. Transfer to a cooler side of the fire and continue to grill, turning occasionally, until tender but not overcooked. Transfer the vegetables to a platter and set aside to cool.
Cut the tough core away from the center of the pineapple and discard. Peel the skins off the peppers and remove and discard the seeds.
If you’re making this as a relish: Finely chop half of the pineapple, onion, and peppers. Add the fresh cilantro, green onions, and serrano chiles and toss with the juices left from the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.
If you’re making this as a side dish: Cut the pineapple, peppers, and onions into large chunks, and serve alongside the tacos.
Piri Piri Recipe
Makes 1 ¼ cups
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ Fresno chile pepper (red jalapeño), seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 ½ garlic cloves, peeled
2 ¼ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
Blend the ingredients together in a food processor and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Makes 1 cup
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano or regular oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red chile flakes
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped (stems included)
¼ to ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
Place all the ingredients in a blender in the same order as listed above.
Blend on medium speed until everything is incorporated and the consistency resembles a runny pesto. Add more olive oil if needed.
Let the chimichurri sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to let the flavors develop, then adjust seasoning with more salt or vinegar, if desired.
Nettie Colón is the ever-roaming chef/founder of Minneapolis’s Red Hen Gastrolab, which has been dubbed “the persistent pop-up.” Dina Avila is a photographer in Portland, Oregon.
Recipe tested by Ivy Manning