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How to Make Butcher's Steak with Dried Chilli and Salted Peanuts

Steak dish
February 2020
Reading time 2 Minutes
This is not a recipe for tacos, but rather a prelude to tacos, inspired by the food in one of my favourite cities, Oaxaca.
  • 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) canola or grapeseed oil, plus extra to taste
  • 60 g (2 oz) dried New Mexican chillies, stems removed
  • 60 g (2 oz) dried guajillo chillies, stems removed, cut into rings
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 40 g (11/2 oz/¼ cup) dry-roasted peanuts or toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • kosher salt
  • 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) hanger steak, boneless short ribs, strip steak, or any other beef steak of your choosing
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
  • 1 bunch coriander (cilantro), tender leaves and stems
  • 8–16 corn tortillas, warmed

Make the salsa. Heat the oil, chillies and garlic in a small pot over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the chillies are toasted and the garlic is golden brown, 4–6 minutes. 

Remove from the heat and add the peanuts, swirling to coat. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse until coarsely puréed. Place in a bowl with the vinegar, and add more oil as needed to create a spoonable sauce. Season with salt.

For the steak. Season the steak with salt and pepper; set aside. Place the onion in a bowl of iced water and leave to sit (this rinses away some of that raw oniony bite).

In a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, heat the oil over medium–high heat. Add the steak and cook until deeply, impossibly, golden brown on one side, 4–6 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until golden brown on that side as well, another 4–6 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to rest for 5–10 minutes.

To serve. Toss the watercress with the lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Slice the steak and serve alongside the drained onion, salsa, watercress, lime wedges, coriander and tortillas.

If you can’t find New Mexican chillies, do not substitute fresh, as they are a completely different beast. If you live in an area where they don’t sell dried chillies at grocery stores, the internet is an excellent resource.

Salsa can be made up to 2 weeks ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator.

NOTHING FANCY: unfussy food for having people over by Alison Roman (Hardie Grant, £22) Photography: Michael Graydon & Nikole Herriott

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