Toasting dried chipotle chiles that will be rehydrated by soaking in water
Everything prepped and ready to be blended
I will never tire of tacos. It is just not possible. A little something warm tucked into a tender corn tortilla, drizzled with salsa and I'm in heaven. These tacos though, are a more than just a little something. I’ve been making this dish for at least 10 years and we're always happy with it. There are a lot of steps to get it all together (as you’ll see in my photos.) But if you plan to spend the day at home, cooking, this one is worth your time. This is a Rick Bayless recipe for Seared Skirt Steak with Chipotle, Tomatillos and Garlic . There are so many levels of flavor involved in each bite that you accept why each step was necessary and you smile that you've made something so good and complex and you smile.
The recipe was originally written to be served just as a steak, smothered with onions, whole roasted garlic (see recipe) and a cooked salsa. But of course it does great sliced on a taco too. I think this is the kind of Mexican dish that American fajitas were originally based upon. Here's a picture of the meat simmering in the sauce. I should have taken a shot of the meat first being seared.
Seared Skirt Steak with Chipotle and Garlic
Arrachera con Chipotle y Ajo
From Rick Bayless’ Mexican Kitchen. Serves 4
For About 1c essential roasted tomatillo-chipotle salsa
3-6 (1/4-1/2 oz stemmed, dried, chipotle chiles (or canned chipotles in adobo)
15 cloves garlic unpeeled
8oz (about 5 med) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
Salt, about 1/2t, plus some for sprinkling on steak
Sugar, about 1/4t.
1T. olive or veg. oil
Four 5-6oz pieces of beef skirt steak, trimmed of exterior fat
1 med. white onion, thinly sliced
1/2t cumin, preferably freshly ground
1/2t black pepper, preferably freshly ground
2/3 c beef broth
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
1. Making the salsa. For dried chiles, toast them on an ungreased griddle or heavy skilled over med. heat, turning regularly and pressing flat with a spatula about 30 seconds. In a small bowl, cover the chiles with hot water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking. Drain and discard water. ( or if using canned, removed from canning sauce)
2. While the chiles are soaking, roast the unpeeled garlic on the griddle, turning occasionally, until soft (they will blacken in spots) about 15 minutes; cool and peel. Roast the tomatillos on a baking sheet 4 inches from very hot broiler until blackened, about 4-5 minutes, then flip and do the same on the other side.
3. Combine tomatillos (and their juices), rehydrated or canned chiles and 3 cloves of the garlic into food processor or blender, and process to a rather fine-textured puree. Taste and season with salt and sugar. Set aside.
4. Finishing the dish. Heat the oil in a large (12 inch) heavy skilled (preferably cast iron) over med. heat. When very hot, pat the steaks dry, sprinkle with salt, and lay in the pan in a single layer. Sear well on both sides until meat is rare to med. rare, 3-4 minutes. Remove to a rack set over a plate.
5. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring regularly, until it begins to brown (but still stays crunchy) about 5 minutes. Add the salsa to the skillet along with cumin, pepper, and remaining 12 cloves of roasted garlic (yes, left whole) Stir as the salsa reduces for several minutes, sten stir in the broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Return the meat to the skillet and let it warm through, about 5 minutes or until meat is done to your liking. Taste the sauce and add a little more salt or sugar if necessary.
6. With a spatula or slotted spoon, transfer the steaks to a serving platter, then spoon the sauce, onions and garlic over and aroung them. Sprinkle with the cilantro and you’re ready.
Notes: The salsa can be prepared several days ahead. The green chiles in one of the above photos were for another recipe. They are not used in the tomatillo-chipotle salsa.
Variations: Steak can be replaced by other rather thin-cut steaks or thin-cut pork-chops. Whole garlic could be left out, reducing to only 3 cloves needed for the salsa.