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Browning & Braising That Perfect Carne Asada (Round Roast)

There are some things that are bona fide and simply can not be altered. Period. Then there are those things that can be played around with and even taken to an upper echelon of greatness, not exhibited in the original.

Early last year, I interviewed J. Lo’s personal chef, the man that opened up and ran her restaurant Madre’s, in LA. He’s Cuban. An all out, non-English speaking cubano that told it to me like it was. When I asked him about molecular gastronomy and all its hype and glory these days, he quickly objected. In the same emphatic manner in which Chef Joel Robuchon did when I posed the same question.

As far as Cuban food goes, most elderly  home-cooks and seasoned chefs will adhere to that philosophy–that Cuban food is Cuban food and is extraordinary without having to add all these over-the-top ingredients.

In my young career as a chef/cook/blogger (what ever the hell you want to classify me), I disagree, just a bit.

Some things can be altered and reinvented and fused, ultimately resulting in something like You’ve Won a Car” on the Price is Right!

I do it to flan all the time. I love having over 40 flavors and so do my clients and friends! You couldn’t even guess what’s the best seller these days. Ironically, non having to do with “traditional” Cuban flavors. The technique, yes, but the flavors are representative of “other” ingredients I’ve embraced and just love.

Notwithstanding the large number of purists that still remain, I respect them and stick to certain rules with certain dishes.

CARNE ASADA, or a good ass roast is one of them!

My mother, whom I reference a lot in this blog, is my Master Chef. She’s taught me 90% of what I know and continues to guide, scold, correct and on the proud occasion, compliment me! “Mi’jita, pero eso te quedo riquisimo!” she’ll say! Other times, she’ll tell me in a stern voice that I didn’t add enough water, or that I added entirely too much cumin to my ropa vieja. Si, si, si, mami…”

For my birthday, back in November, we feasted for the 2.5 weeks I was home. I’ll share that whole caja china experience in a different post, because it really does deserve its own. Anyway, on the night WE made the roast, I was all geek’d because I was going to “alter” it to my new-found interest in non-traditional seasoning for our glorious traditional food!

Yeah right. Hold up, wait a minute. She caught me rubbing down the roast with a made-up mojo, and stopped me in my rightful track.

I gracefully ignored her and kept it moving. The roast had to be rubbed down and let sit overnight, so I was on a mission.

This is what the raw round looks like, with all its mojo goodness on it. Admission: I can’t believe I’ve not shared a home made mojo recipe with you that like using it and rely on Goya’s or some other store brand pre-made mixture. I’ll get to that. And if you can’t wait, email me.

Making the roast is fun, yet intricate. Perfecting carne asada is a job. It’s a professional job. Not for the instant gratification individual (much like myself); rather for the chef/cook that can appreciate the steps and technique.

For starters, let’s talk about the ROUND.

Round is a prime cut of the cow, toward its rump. A really chunky and juicy part that when used right,  might be one your more frequent go-to cuts. There’s the top, eye and bottom round. Each has its own common use and technique (i.e., roasting, pan-frying, broiling and brasing). Top round, at least the way we make in on our very traditional Cuban home, is our main, go-to cut.

In addition to carne asada, we also use round to make Carne Con Papa (that post needs some serious love–won’t you give it some?)

For our carne asada, the important thing is making sure it’s browned properly and all the way through by braising it. This process is what ultimately gives it that color and look. After all, we know the aesthetic of food is the first thing that attracts to us dishes.  The  subsequent steps (ie, simmering in the right amount of liquid) helps in tenderizing the tough cut and yielding enough sauce for the final dish. For browning or “dorando,” we use canola oil and let it cook for 30-45 minutes or so, depending on the size of your round and temperature you’re cooking it in. To ensure you accomplish that pretty and perfect dorado color, you should  turn your chunky round every 15 minutes (again, depending on the size and temperature).

This is the unfortunate, yet challenging part!! This recipe is going into the never-ending cookbook I’m STILL working on and I can’t publish the full recipe. I think I’ve given you hints on how to start, at least.  I swear to you to though, that it’s utter goodness and I love being able to successfully make a beautiful plate of carne asada. The resulting sauce or jus is good enough to soup out of a spoon. So with that, I’ll leave you wanting and supporting me in getting the book published, which you can refer to on page 73!

If you attempt to make and accomplish it, and I HOPE you do, serve it with white long grain rice or brown rice seasoned with achiote or saffron and definitely some plantains or tostones on the side! That’s if you’re going for an every day, Cuban-style, at home dinner. For a more sophisticated entree, I’d pair it completely different.

¡Buen Provecho!


I invite you to read the last post to be informed and hopefully be involved in STIR IT 28, the nation-wide campaign that myself and two other bloggers have formed to benefit Haiti. As part of the STIR IT 28, month-long fundraiser, my ONE COMMENT. ONE EATS. hunger campaign will extend to the relief efforts in Haiti. For every comment left on this post, one non-persishable food item will be donated to Share Our Strength. Please consider being a part of movement! Comments will be eligible until Feb. 28th. Our campaign Facebook page is here. Here is the badge you are free to place on your blog. Please link back to http://tinyurl.com/yfvvzd4. Thanks!

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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262 thoughts on “Browning & Braising That Perfect Carne Asada (Round Roast)

  1. Memoria: it sure does look fabulous and tastes way better than it looks!!

    Rosa: to die for! sooo darn delicious!

    Val: home made mojo is soo good. makes food tastes better.

    Chef Jules: girl, you’ll figure out! and he’ll kiss you all over it for it.

  2. Bren, your carne assada looks fabulous…I am a meat fan and love carne assada, thank you so much for the recipe, will definitely try it soon 🙂

  3. Chica te la comistes QUE RICO SE VE ESO!!! Lo vas a creer pero nunca e’ echo una Carne Asada cubana. Lo voy ententar, mi mojo es bastante simple, ajo, limon verde o naranja agria, un poco de aciete de olive, sal y si quieres oregano. Pero para bistec no lo meto oregano na’mas comino.

  4. Did I forget to leave a comment the first time I saw this? OMG – I just want to start picking at it with my fingers, girl! Doesn’t get any better!

  5. It’s not easy to get good photos of meat, but yours are simply mouthwatering! I bet that carne tasted awesome. Best wishes with your event.

  6. Juliana: I didn’t post the recipe, but I hope that the hidden hints gave you a clue on how to start the process! Hopefully it means you’ll get the book when it’s published! 🙂

    Chef E: Girl, it’s amazing. We don’t use cherry, but I think it might work just fine.

    CB: ay mami, si no fuera por ti, no supiera cocinar lo que se.

    Nathan: verdad que si!! y mijo, estaba TAN juicy and tener! No words to describe it!

    RJ Flamingo: girl you want to eat this with your hands sometimes, it’s so irresistable!

    THE DJ: yeah, not so much! Unless my mom comes down that weekend to help me out! 🙂 which would be so awesome!

  7. OMG! That’s looks absolutely amazing and tasty!! The pics seems to capture the texture and the look I expect see if I ever get the chance to to taste in person..HMMMMM!

  8. Wow! Looks good babe. Probably tastes even better. I might have to convince you to leak the recipe.

  9. You do know this is simply a meal in and of itself – no seriously – lol. I could just eat meat and drink water for my meal – lol

  10. I’m a vegan and I would never eat any thing with a face or a mother but I like you as a person

  11. El color precioso y me imagino que el sabor aún mejor.
    !Una auténtica chef!
    Me voy a apuntar a las clases de tu mami yo también.

  12. Your carne asada combines perfectly with white rice and yuca con mojo. Of course, it goes best with a good Spanish red wine, preferably from Ribera del Duero. Keep it up, chef B

  13. Hello B, go girl, I love your website. Goood cooking, nice writing, great and the best for you.

  14. Iris: mija todo culpa de mami, la mejor cocinera!

    Reggie: yes, ur so right! The texture is amazing!! you’ll taste in person. You and Kim missed my house-warming party so you owe me a visit!

    Dullah: yeah okay! buy a book

    DuoDishes: hahahah. sure is. you should try it. You and Amir seem to have a good lock on food

    Darius: LOVE it! LOOOOOOVe it … lol

    Edson: Oh my gosh Edson, how long have you been vegetarian!! come un poco de carne, mijo! Tan rico!

    Carmen: si el color ese salio expectacular. nade facil complir!

    Alfredo: but of course it pairs well w/all those classics. Some American potato and asparagus would be good, too!

    Carolina: Thanks for visiting! hope yo’ll come back more often!

    ChefFresco: even better eating it! 😉

  15. I was looking for the perfect roast beef to make a roast beef po’boy with and whoop der it is!!! B’s carne asada uh huh uh huh put that on top of some rice now yeahhhh. Ok you can buy your sexy shoes now :o)

  16. Aw man, such a tease! Ah well, I’ll just have to get your cookbook-the carne asada looks delicious! I am going to attempt what I hope will be a reasonable facsimile soon. 🙂

  17. chef B carne asada is a traditional dish for cubans people , look amazing to me , I’ve a really good recipe for raice and beans a got it from my abuelita ,,,, if you want it let me know… bye bye mj

  18. Teresita: definamente fue delicioso! que rico es nuestra comida, verdad!

    Gourmetcook: thanks for the allowance! On way to get some today!

    M/M: Thanks!!

    Chris: Hey girl! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

    Tina: exactly! it’s supposed to be a tease! I wonder how many people really do download the recipes, anyway. Let me know how your attempt goes. Feel free to email me for tips! 🙂

    MJ: que tipo de rice and beans?

  19. I find Latin home cooks are very traditional but, like you, I like to shake it up a bit now and then. I also like this dish cooked with potatoes, carrots and onions. They taste so good in all that delicious mojo.

  20. Child this looks so good! SHARE SHARE SHARE the mojo recipie so i can try this ASAP! LOL! I’m getting more into steak lately & have tried some steak creations that my family LOVED. :0)

  21. Jonathan: go get a gravatar!! and I hope your girl went and cooked for you b/c she said it looked soo good, too!

    JoanNova: yes, sometimes, we/they can be, which is precisely why I get all crazy and shake it up for my clients. However, as I started the post, some things just really need to stay in their pure form! 🙂

    3piece: I’ll give you that mojo recipe, don’t you worry! 🙂

    Miesha: Girl, it’s amazing, and no one makes it better than my mother. I mean you know I throw down, but mami is another level of master cooking.

  22. In support of “One Comment. One Eats” I LOVE this idea, and of course your wonderful recipes!

  23. Girl, I can’t believe you are teasing us with no recipe. The pictures look amazing and delicious!!! Que Rico!

  24. Wow! Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, just like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some images to drive the content home a bit, but other than that, this is helpful blog post. A wonderful read. I will definitely revisit again.

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