Nowadays, there are many preparations in Mexico that are called “alambre”, which means “wire”; for some of these, the name might seem strange, but it makes sense for the original dish of cubed steak, bacon and vegetables, assembled on long metal skewers, which connotes the shape and constitution of a wire. Cooked on a charcoal grill, and served on the “wire” with tortillas on the side (as shown above), it became a staple at taco restaurants, at least in Mexico City. From there, probably to save time and manage large orders, they were cooked on a large indoor grill without the skewers, but the name remained, and other versions with chicken, chorizo, and even topped with melted cheese, have been created.
Here in Southern Ontario, we recently had a break between the extreme heat and heavy rain, so that opened the perfect window of opportunity to grill the original alambre, a classic – Mexican style – steak skewer.
Classic Steak Skewers – Alambres
Ingredients (for four skewers)
2 Sirloin steaks (approximately ¾” thick)
4 slices bacon
1 green sweet pepper; washed, stem and seeds removed
1 white onion; peeled
1 cup pale beer
Vegetable oil, for brushing
Salt and pepper, to taste
Warm corn tortillas
Salsas (such as cooked tomatillo, guacamole, etc.; click here for my recipes)
Remove fat from the steaks, and cut into cubes, according to the thickness of the piece:
Place cubes in a wide container, such as a glass tray, and pour beer over the meat:
Allow to marinate for a few minutes in the fridge, turning occasionally. (Pour leftover beer in a glass and handle to the grill master*.)
Meanwhile, slice bacon into one-inch-long pieces. The next step is optional, but I do it because something I do not like about bacon as an ingredient in a dish, is that it usually turns out soggy and greasy, and this step will prevent it: cook in a pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes per side (photo below, left). When the bacon is nicely browned, but still soft and pliable, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels (photo below, right):
Reserve. Cut green pepper into fourths lengthwise, then each quarter in half lengthwise again; slice each strip into four pieces. Slice onion in half, then each piece into quarters; separate layers (in the photo below, I cut two smallish onions in half):
To assemble alambres, divide all ingredients into four portions; arrange on metal skewers, starting with a piece of pepper, then onion, bacon and marinated steak, repeating until all ingredients are on the skewers. Brush on all sides with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Place over a grid on the grill over direct heat (photo below, left). Once one side is nicely browned, turn to cook other side (for medium, 3 to 4 minutes per side):
These delicious alambres were ready after eight minutes, total grilling time:
I served the alambres the old-fashioned way, on the “wire”, with warm corn tortillas and lime wedges on the side:
A generous portion of my alambre was tucked into a warm tortilla, topped with cooked tomatillo salsa and guacamole, and finished with a sprinkle of lime juice and salt:
A cynical attitude could lead to label the above as just another taco, but I honestly felt like a nefelibata, delighting in a feast for all the senses: the vibrant colours and smell of the food at the table; the sound of each bite into the crunchy, yet juicy, charbroiled meat and vegetables; and the great balance of textures and flavours, accentuated by the citrusy juice and salt.
* My husband is the grill master at our household, as seen in the photo below, cooking the alambres, as well as a couple of chicken-less cutlets for our vegetarian daughter, and also gracefully handling the leftover beer:
I am sharing my recipe at Over the Moon #235, graciously hosted by Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, and Marilyn @ Marilyn’s Treats. Special thanks to Bev, for featuring my Classic Mocha Slab Cake at this party.
I am also sharing my recipe at Thursday Favourite Things #450 with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.