Tacos, Enchiladas, Tamales, Tostadas

Seared Steak Tacos with Cactus Paddles (Tacos de Bistec con Nopales) | Print |
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Makes 12 tacos, serving 4 as a light meal

  • 3 medium cactus paddles
  • About 2 tablespoons rich-tasting pork lard, vegetable oil or bacon drippings
  • Salt
  • 1 pound thin-cut beef (look for cecina, tasajo or butterflied skirt steak in a Mexican market, or thin-cut round tip (1/8- to ¼-inch thick) also known as minute steak, sandwich steak or breakfast steak in an American market)
  • 12 fresh, warm corn tortillas
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) Frontera Chipotle Salsa
  • Fresh lime wedges
  1. The cactus.  With a sharp knife, clean the cactus paddles by trimming all the edges and scraping off the spines.  Measure 1 tablespoon of the lard, oil or bacon drippings into a large (12-inch), heavy well-seasoned skillet (preferably cast-iron) or griddle and set over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the cactus and cook until done, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Slice into strips.
  2. Searing the meat. Generously salt both sides of each piece of meat. Wipe the skillet or griddle and return it to medium-high heat.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon lard, oil or bacon drippings.  When very hot (it’ll just begin to smoke), lay in the meat in a single layer. If it doesn’t all fit comfortably, you’ll need to do this in 2 batches.  Sear the meat on one side until brown (about 1½ minutes), flip it over, and sear the other side. Meat for tacos a la plancha is generally cooked well done.  Transfer to your cutting board; tent with foil if you are searing the meat in batches.
  3. Serving.  Chop the seared steak into ½-inch bits (most Mexican taqueros do this with cleavers) and scoop into a serving bowl—a warm one makes a big difference in keeping the filling warm.  Set on the table along with the cactus and warm tortillas, Frontera Salsa and lime wedges will be a welcome addition for garnishing your tacos.