Portable, butane-fired griddles show up at dusk in parks and on street corners through most of the country, penetrating the outdoor odors with the aroma of searing meat and sweet browned onions. This is an easy dish to get a passion tor, served in hot flour or corn tortillas, with a little Chunky Guacamole or Red-Chile Sauce.
- 1 pound thin-cut pan-fryable steaks like those called sandwich steaks or flip steaks, or even skirt steaks; see Ingredients in Notes)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, as desired
- About 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, diced or sliced
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1. The meat: Trim the beef of excess fat and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Over medium-high, heat enough vegetable oil to nicely coat the bottom of a large, heavy skillet. When it is searingly hot, brown the steak for 1 to 2 minutes on each side; for cuts like skirt, be careful not to cook past medium-rare. Remove to a wire rack set over a plate and keep warm in a low oven; reduce the heat under the skillet to medium.
2. The onion: Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until a deep golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.
3. Finishing the mixture: Cut the meat into thin strips (across the grain, for skirt steak); for tougher cuts of meat, cut into ½-inch pieces. When the onion mixture is ready, add the beef to the skillet and stir until heated through. Season with salt and serve in a deep, warm bowl.
Searing the Meat: If you sear the meat in a hot pan, you’ll get a nice flavor and a good crust; if the pan isn’t hot, you’ll find pale meat simmering in its juices.
The Meat: The Mexican bisteces often used in this preparation are taken from the tougher cuts (frequently the round) and pounded. Choose thin round steaks (often sold as breakfast steaks, sandwich steaks, flip steaks, wafer steaks or perhaps under other names) and pound them if necessary; or choose any thin steak tender enough to pan-fry. I like trimmed skirt steak because of its flavor and texture.
Timing and Advance Preparation
About 25 minutes are needed to make this dish; nothing can be prepared in advance.