Carne Asada Cheese Fries
The Piper Inn is one of the oldest, oddest and friendliest restaurants in Denver, loved by bikers and hipsters alike. It’s been owned by the Levin family since opening in 1968, but because so many different cooks have passed through the kitchen over fifty years, it has a Chinese-American-Mexican menu that is entirely unique. Carne asada fries, French fries topped with the fillings of a carne asada (steak) taco, are a California-Mexican classic. The Piper Inn adds a Midwestern-style beer cheese sauce to its popular version.
- Serves: 4 persons
- ¾pound skirt steak or flank steak, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 ½tablespoons lime juice (from 1 lime)
- 1tablespoon chili powder
- ¼teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)
- ¾teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼teaspoon black pepper
- 1tablespoon neutral oil
- 4ounces cream cheese, cubed
- ⅓cup beer (preferably a lager or other beer without a pronounced flavor)
- 2cups finely shredded sharp Cheddar (about 8 ounces)
- ½teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
- Kosher salt, to taste
- ½cup finely chopped yellow or white onion
- ½cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
- 1 ½pounds homemade French fries or any fresh or frozen fried potato variety, such as home fries, waffle fries, curly fries or tater tots
- Crema Mexicana or sour cream (optional)
Step 1Add steak to a medium bowl, and toss with the lime juice, chili powder, cayenne (if using), salt and pepper until thoroughly coated. Let marinate at room temperature while you prepare the remaining components.
Step 2Prepare the beer cheese: In a medium saucepan, melt the cream cheese over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add the beer in a slow stream, whisking until smooth. Let the foam die down, about 1 minute, then decrease heat to low and add the cheese one handful at a time, whisking until smooth before adding the next. Once you’ve integrated all the cheese, whisk in the Worcestershire, mustard, garlic powder and paprika. Season to taste with salt, cover and set aside, off heat. (Makes 1 1/4 cups.)
Step 3Prepare the garnish: In a small bowl, stir together the onion, cilantro and lime juice. Set aside.
Step 4Make the carne asada: Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high. Add the meat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and the sauce reduces to a glaze, 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 5Arrange cooked fries on a serving platter in an even layer, and drizzle beer cheese on top to taste. Top with the carne asada and onion-cilantro mixture. Serve with lime wedges, and crema, if desired.