I am by no means a perfect chef. I am not above documenting my screw-ups either. And boy, did I screw up last night.

There's a place in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, where they serve the juiciest, most tender arrachera. It's called HC Monterrey and there are several locations around the town. It's cheap, quick and comes with a baked potato or a baked onion, fresh tortillas, avocado slices, a lovely roasted pepper and lime wedges. The arrachera itself is fall-apart delicious and just the tiniest bit pink in the middle.

So, on Sunday, I was shopping with my boys at the Great Canadian Superstore, when a giant flank steak caught my attention. It was crazy cheap and being as I am in love with the act of grilling meat, I thought, 'hey, let's try arrachera this week!'. So we bought the huge chunk of flank steak. I looked up an arrachera recipe and, oddly, the first result on Google was a link to which is the forum where all the people I used to know in Playa talked with each other. Someone had asked how to make arrachera like HC Monterrey, so I followed the responses and found a recipe. Marinate in lime, salt, pepper and cumin, then grill on high heat. Sounded easy enough. I'm not exactly a stranger to grilling meats, I could grill the perfect steak in my sleep, with one hand tied behind my back. But, we have to keep in mind, I do not have a grill at the moment (*cry*), so I had to use our cast-iron grill pan. No biggy. Done it before, worked out great.

Not so much this time. The steak was tougher than tough. It had picture-perfect grill marks, though. Luckily, the man made some guacamole and we had some tortilla chips on hand, or we would have starved.

There are a few things I know I can do next time to make it better:

1. Pummel it with a meat mallet first.
2. Marinade for longer, in more lime juice.
3. Use a real grill.

I was left with perfectly grill-marked pieces of super tough meat to do something with and all I could think of is to cook the heck out of it in a stew or a soup. I threw together a soupy-stew (sorry Rach, I refuse to say 'stoop') with the flank steak & corn. A Tex Mex twist on stew, with a hint of grill flavor. It's in the slow-cooker now, but I've made some homemade dinner rolls and from the smell of my house, I think I may have stumbled on a winner.

Has anyone else tried to make arrachera? Tell me about your successes and your failures!

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