Cinco de Mayo is this Saturday and I'm excitedly gearing up to celebrate in true style: with a huge barbeque for 300 of my sister's closest friends. I'm hosting this event for my sister and the lovely ladies of the UCSD chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma. It's going to be a fabulous day-long fiesta that involves a charity soccer tournament and some delicious grilled Mexican food. Guests can munch on chips, guacamole, and salsa while they watch the games and wait for the main course. There are a lot of people coming, so food that can be prepped at least a day in advance is what will complete the menu. The invite displays a vibrant, colorful, Mexican fiesta theme that I hope to carry over into the menu. To see what delicious options (one meat and one veggie) I'll be masterfully grilling,


made from a cheaper cut of meat like flank steak can be topped with fresh peppers and onions. For the vegetarians in attendance, I'll grill up
Grilled Monterey Jack & Corn Quesadillas

. On the side? A huge batch of
Mexican Red Tomato Rice

that was designed to be prepared on an outdoor grill.

From Emeril Lagasse

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup tequila
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried crushed Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 pounds flank steak, fat trimmed
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 large flour tortillas
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
grated cheddar or pepper jack cheese, optional for garnish
Lime wedges, accompaniment
Cold Mexican beer, or tequila shots

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the lime juice, tequila, garlic, cilantro, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the Worcestershire sauce, oregano, pepper flakes, cumin and coriander. Pour into a large zip-lock bag, add the steak, and seal. Place in a baking dish and refrigerate for at least 12 and up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
  2. Remove the meat from the bag and pat dry. Season on both sides with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper.
  3. Preheat the grill to high, and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Wrap the tortillas in foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes to warm and soften. Remove from the oven and keep warm in the aluminum foil.
  5. Cook the steak over the grill to preferred temperature, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove from the heat and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  6. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and onions, and cook, stirring, until soft and slightly caramelized, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic, remaining teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  7. Thinly slice the steak against the grain. Divide among the warmed tortillas and top with the vegetables and cheese if desired. Squeeze with lime juice and serve immediately with cold beer or tequila shots.

Serves 6.

Grilled Monterey Jack & Corn Quesadillas
From Gourmet magazine

4 oz Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Special equipment: a well-seasoned ridged grill pan

  1. Stir together cheese, corn, mayonnaise, scallions, cilantro, and chiles in a small bowl.
  2. Lightly brush 1 tortilla with some of oil. Turn tortilla over and spread 1/2 cup filling over half, then fold other half over to form a half-moon. Assemble 3 more quesadillas in same manner.
  3. Heat lightly oiled grill pan over moderate heat until hot, then cook quesadillas, 2 at a time, turning over once, until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes total per batch. Transfer to a cutting board and cut in half.

Serves 2 to 4.

Mexican Red Tomato Rice
From Rick Bayless

1 (15-oz.) can whole tomatoes, drained
1/2 small white onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, halved
1-3/4 cups chicken broth or water
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 whole tomatoes, unpeeled
1-1/2 cups rice (medium-grain)
2 carrots, scraped, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
3 serrano chilies or 2 jalapenos, slit lengthwise nearly end to end
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  1. In blender or food processor, combine canned tomatoes with onion and garlic. You may add tomato juices to the measure of chicken broth or water. Blend tomatoes smooth to equal a generous 1 cup.
  2. Heat broth or water until steaming; season with salt. Lightly oil tomatoes. Grill the tomatoes to char their skins. When cool, remove most of the peel and roughly chop; set aside.
  3. In a 3-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add raw rice to hot oil and stir regularly during a cooking period of 5 minutes.
  4. If some rice kernels start to brown, that's fine. Add tomato mixture and carrots.
  5. Stir a couple times, then let cook until reduced and somewhat dry-looking, 3 minutes.
  6. Add the warm broth or water, the chilies and parsley; stir thoroughly and scrape down any rice kernels clinging to the side of the pan. Cover pan with lid and place on a range burner, or if pan is appropriate, place on cooking grate of charcoal or gas grill (indirect, medium heat).
  7. Cook for 15 minutes or until almost all liquid is absorbed. Add grilled tomatoes, stirring with a fork. Cover pan and cook 5 additional minutes.
  8. Gently fluff the rice with a fork when done. Remove the chilies or pull out and use to decorate the top of the rice, and serve.

Serves 6.

What will you be eating for Cinco de Mayo this weekend?