Skirt Steak Torta

Yield: 6 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1½ teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large head romaine
  • 10 ounces queso fresco
  • 2 large avocados
  • 1 cup pickled red onions
  • 3 canned chipotles in adobo
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 6 Cuban or hoagie rolls

Directions:

1) To make the pickled red onions, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, cloves, bay leaf, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then add the onion slices. Let the mixture come back to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the onions soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
2) Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover, and let the mixture cool completely. Transfer the onions and their pickling liquid to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks before using.
3) Lay the steak on a rimmed platter or baking sheet. Rub it all over with the chili powder and remaining 1 teaspoon black pepper and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare most of your grill with a high flame, saving one section for indirect heat (leave a burner off if you’re using a gas grill, or don’t add coals to that area if your grill is charcoal). Cover the lid and allow the grate to get very hot, preferably up to 600°F. Clean it well.
4) Just before cooking, sprinkle the salt all over the steak on both sides, adding a little less to the thinner pieces. Coat with 3 tablespoons oil and grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the steak, to cook it medium-rare. If it’s cooking too fast -- this can happen if it’s thinner -- finish cooking over indirect heat. Allow to rest before slicing for the tortas.
5) Halve the romaine lengthwise, leaving the end intact so that the leaves don’t separate, and brush the flat sides with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Grill, face down, for 2 to 3 minutes, until it’s well-marked from the grill and the edges of the leaves begin to char. Remove and thinly slice.
6) Cut the steak into 4- to 6-inch pieces, then slice them thinly and on a bias, against the natural grain of the meat. Separately, thinly slice both the queso fresco and the avocados. Add about 1 cup of the pickled red onions to a bowl; mince the chipotles and, in another bowl, combine them with the mayonnaise. This will be your assembly line for the tortas.
7) Split the rolls lengthwise and toast them over the grill, either over a medium flame (on a gas grill) or over indirect heat (for charcoal), for 1 to 2 minutes, until they’re lightly golden on the inside. To assemble, spread a heaping tablespoon of the chipotle mayo on one piece of bread and lightly mash the avocado on the other. Arrange a few slices of the queso fresco on the bottom piece, followed by the steak, then a handful of the grilled romaine and a generous pile of pickled onions. Close the sandwich, halve diagonally, and serve right away or wrap and serve within a few hours.