notes from the mexican kitchen

Raise Your Labor Day Grilling Game with “Brava” Steak


You know you want to grill this long holiday weekend, and you want something good but something easy. Something that can feed a crowd, but not the same old crowd-pleasers.

Let’s talk about Brava Steak, a recipe for marinated ribeye that derives its signature “brave” spiciness from a pungent marinade of roasted serrano (or jalapeño) chiles and garlic, plus a little sparkle from lime juice.

And because we like to keep Mexican Weekend relatively simple, I dress the steak with salsa huevona—I’ll politely translate that as “lazy salsa”—because all you’ll do is char the ingredients on the grill, then chop or pulse them into a rustic consistency.

One final tip: Balance out all of the heat in this dish with something sweet, like, say, in-season sweet corn. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can serve it with sweet corn tamales like we do at Frontera. You can find that recipe here.

Carne Asada Brava
Recipe from Season 6, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 6


  • 6large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 4 fresh serrano or 2 fresh jalapeno chiles, stemmed
  • 1/4cup fresh lime juice
  • 2tablespoons tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, plus more for the steaks
  • Salt
  • 6 ribeye steaks about 1-inch thick (they'll weigh about 10 to 12 ounces each)
  • Salsa Huevona for Serving


In a small ungreased skillet, roast the unpeeled garlic and the chiles over medium heat, turning occasionally, until both are soft and blotchy black in places - 5 to 10 minutes for the chiles, 10 to 15 minutes for the garlic. Cool, then peel the garlic. Place both garlic and chiles in a food processor along with the lime juice and oil. Run the machine until the mixture is as smoothly pureed as possible. Season highly with salt, usually about 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Smear the mixture over both sides of the steaks, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Light a charcoal fire and let the coals burn until they are covered with gray ash; position the grill grate and let it heat for a couple of minutes. Spray or brush the steaks on both sides with a little oil. Lay on the grill grates and let cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until the grates have nicely seared beautiful grill marks into the meat - don't attempt to move the steaks until you can see nice grill marks. Flip the steaks and cook until as done as you like (typically about 2 to 3 minutes longer for medium rare). I like to let the steaks rest for a few minutes (on a cool part of the grill, a grate suspended over the back of the grill or a very low oven) before serving to allow the meat to reabsorb all the juices. Serve with Lazy Salsa or another salsa or hot sauce of your liking.

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