A chipotle pineapple skirt steak recipe to put you in a sunny mood, plus the differences between Mexico’s two favorite sipping spirits

by Chef Peter Botros

A CUT ABOVE
When preparing steak, ensuring a proper cut is vital: not only will slicing your steak correctly make the dish look photograph worthy, it also enhances the flavor and tenderness of the meat. Even the most prime cuts of meat can be chewy and dry when mishandled. To cut like a pro, be sure you are slicing against the grain. The grain is the direction in which the muscle fibers run through the meat, and when you cut against the grain, these muscle fibers are shortened, lending a juicier (and easier to chew) bite. Be sure to use your knife perpendicular to the grain lines.

TWO SIDES OF AGAVE
While tequila and mezcal do share a few similarities both are agave-based spirits born in Mexico – their differences abound. In fact, tequila is a type of mezcal (much like bourbon falls in the whiskey category), and they often yield much different flavor profiles, albeit both are equally delicious. Here’s a look at the primary differences between the two Mexican varietals:

TEQUILA
Must be made from Blue Weber Agave
Agave is typically steamed in ovens
Tends to be smoother and sweeter
90% of tequila is produced in the Mexican state of Jalisco

MEZCAL
Can be made from more than 50 types of agave
Agave is typically roasted in underground pits
Tends to be smokier and more savory
Mezcal is produced in nine different areas of Mexico

VJ SPREAD

RAISE THE CHAR
Here’s a vibrant, citrus-forward recipe for a grilled skirt steak marinade that’s perfect for warm spring weather. This recipe calls on the powers of pineapple, an exceptional meat tenderizer. The tropical fruit contains bromelain, a mixture of two protein digesting enzymes that breaks down amino acids and softens the meat’s muscle fibers. It also increases the steak’s ability to absorb more moisture, resulting in juicer, more flavorful meat.

Ingredients
2 tbsp roasted garlic purée
1 tbsp chipotle purée
6 tbsp ancho Chile powder
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp granulated onion
2 tbsp garlic
2 tbsp ground coriander
½ cup puréed pineapple
1 cup pineapple juice

Ideally marinate for 24 hours. DO NOT exceed 36 hours or the bromelain will over-tenderize the steak. Note that the marinade does not contain salt. Make sure to salt liberally before grilling on a backyard or charcoal grill.

Chef Peter Botros
The Stone House / 1150 Clove Road
Chef’s Loft / 1150 Clove Road
Violette’s Cellar / 2271 Hylan Boulevard
Sofia’s Taqueria / 977 Bay Street / 4370 Amboy Road
Rustic Pizza & Pasteria / 97 Lincoln Avenue
Sally’s Southern / 427 Forest Avenue