Although a good piece of beef needs little embellishment, the unusual and bright sauce in this recipe is one of the quickest ways to provide a Latin flair.
The steaks can be cooked on an outdoor grill; set it up for direct and indirect heat. Grill the meat over direct heat for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, then move the steaks to indirect heat and cook for 6 to 8 minutes total, turning as necessary. After the steaks rest, collect any juices and add them to the final quick cooking of the sauce.
Fresh tomatillos, the small green fruit with papery husks, are available in the produce department of most larger grocery stores.
Serve with roasted squash, grilled onions, a quinoa salad or simply with the remaining avocado half, cut into chunks and lightly dressed with olive oil.
- 2 boneless strip steaks (may use bone-in; 1 1/2 to 2 pounds total)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 1 ripe Hass avocado
- 4 to 5 stems cilantro
- 1 to 2 medium limes
- 3 tomatillos
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 2 tablespoons best-quality tequila
- 1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Handful grape tomatoes, for garnish
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, trim the steaks of excess fat and cut each one in half (to form 4 portions); season all over with 1 teaspoon of the salt (total). Allow the meat to come to room temperature.
As you finish prepping the following items, place them in the bowl of a food processor: Peel and crush the garlic. Peel and pit the ripe avocado; reserve 1/2 for an accompanying salad or for another use. Wash and dry the cilantro leaves; discard the stems. Squeeze the juice from the lime(s); there should be about 3 tablespoons.
Peel and discard the tomatillos' papery husks; drop the tomatillos into the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes (to enhance their flavor and reduce the skins' sticky residue). Drain and rinse under cold running water until just warm to the touch. Use a small paring knife to remove and discard the cores; cut the cored tomatillos in half and place in the bowl of the food processor with the other prepped ingredients. Add the hot pepper sauce, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the tequila. Puree until smooth; taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet (not nonstick) over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the peanut oil and watch it scatter across the skillet. Lightly rub the tops of the steaks with olive oil and sear (non-oiled side down) for 3 minutes, then use tongs to turn them over and sear for 3 minutes. Transfer to the oven and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until the meat's internal temperature registers 120 to 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and lightly season the steaks with pepper to taste; transfer to a platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest while you finish the sauce.
Cut the grape tomatoes in half lengthwise, if desired. Divide among individual plates.
Transfer the sauce into the skillet and place over medium-high heat. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, whisking constantly to incorporate meat juices in the skillet, until the sauce has thickened and some of its liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat. Add any collected meat juices from the platter and stir to combine.
Divide the steaks among individual plates with the tomatoes; spoon some of the sauce alongside or on top. Serve hot. Pass the remaining sauce at the table.
Adapted from "The New Steak: Recipes for a Range of Cuts Plus Savory Sides," by Cree LeFavour (Ten Speed Press, 2008).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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