I used to really enjoy my crock pot, because it enabled me to cook pretty decent meals while being lazy. I would have an optimum amount of time to play video games and then when Laura got home from work, I’d have this great meal ready. It would seem as if I spent all day cooking.
Ah, how things have changed so quickly 😉
Now the crock pot gets regular use because we still haven’t gotten the hang of the time management thing, what with our new variable needing constant feedings and changes. Our first night home from the hospital yielded a crock pot meal. Setting and forgetting really helps us focus on learning how to parent without having to settle for pizza or take out every night.
But I’m not really a traditionalist when it comes to the crock pot. You won’t typically see me cooking meat loafs and beef stews. I like to step outside the box a little. Last week I did a Hungarian turkey and chickpea meal and served it with brown rice. It was something different.
Laura wasn’t overly fond of it though. Too much cumin.
So this time I pulled a tried and true meal; slow cooked skirt steak fajitas. Since I have two crock pots, I also decided to throw together mole (MO-LAY) inspired black beans, mole being a chocolate and chile sauce used in Mexcan and Spanish cuisine.
Skirt steak is one of my favorite cuts of beef. It is actually the diaphragm muscle of the cow and several feet long, though you can typically buy it in smaller, cut pieces. Flank steak is often used in place of skirt steak, because it has similar physical and flavor characteristics. Skirt, however, has a little more fat marbling and, in my humble opinion, tastes better. It is also the traditional cut used for fajitas, even though flank is now more widely used.
Braised Ancho Lime Skirt Steak with Salsa Verde and Black Beans Mole
For the Skirt Steak
Makes 3 pounds, or about 8 – 10 small fajitas
- 3 pounds of Skirt Steak
- 1 dried ancho chili, seeded and rehydrated in hot water
- 1 onion, julienne (cut in strips)
- 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 1 ounce of tequila
- 1 or 2 bay leaves
- Salt, to taste
- Turn the crock pot on high and place the lid on. I always preheat my crock pot because I feel like mine takes a long time to heat up.
- Pour a little bit of oil in the bottom of the crock pot. Add the onions and garlic.
Crockin' some Onions
- Slice the rehydrated ancho chili into strips, and then cut the strips into small pieces. Stir in with the onions. Add the bay leaves and lime zest.
- Heat a large saute pan on medium high heat. Season the skirt steak with salt and pepper and sear the meat on both sides, no oil. You may need to cut the skirt steak in half or thirds to fit into the pan.
- When seared, place skirt steak over onions in the crock pot.
- The hot saute pan probably has bits of meat stuck to it, but we’re going to fix that. Pour the lime juice and tequila into the pan and scrape off those tasty bits (referred to as “sucs”.) This is known as “deglazing” the pan. Be careful of the steam if your pan is still very hot.
- Pour this tasty lime, tequila, and meat mixture over the skirt steak in the crock pot.
Don't waste that flavor!
- Replace the lid and cook on high for 4 hours, turning the meat over occasionally. The skirt steak is done when it can be easily shredded with a fork, which is what you should do when it is. Go ahead, take a bite. You know you want to.
Four hours later, shredded!
where’s the beef?
For the Beans
This was an off-the-top-of-my-head recipe I did. Being as it is, I realized after I was done that I would have rather cooked the beans most of the way and then added certain ingredients towards the end, so that it may have retained a colorful appearance. Although tasty, my beans just looked brown. Learning from my mistake, I will present the recipe the way I will do it next time, rather than how I did it the first time.
Makes about 4 cups, approximately 8 servings
- 1 cup of black beans, soaked overnight in water
- 3 cups of water (you can use stock if you like, as long as it’s unsalted)
- 1 strip of bacon, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 of an onion, small diced
- 1/2 of a green pepper, small diced
- 1/2 of a red pepper, small diced
- Red peppers go for about $5.00 a piece out here on the islands, so I used an appropriate amount of canned roasted red peppers and diced them. You can do this too.
- 1 Tablespoon of sweet paprika (hot if you prefer)
- 1 Tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
- 2 Tablespoons of roasted garlic paste (or just use fresh garlic, chopped, if you don’t have it)
beans beans the magical fruit . . .
Soaking the beans makes a huge difference. Some people do the “quick soak” method, which requires the boiling of the beans for about a minute, and then letting the beans sit for an hour off the heat. Although I do this when I don’t plan ahead, it really makes a difference with the cooking times. Properly soaked beans will cook much better and faster. Also, don’t salt beans that haven’t been cooked. Salt inhibits the absorption of water, and toughens the beans, further increasing your cook time by hours.
- Having said that, combine the beans with the water, paprika, cocoa powder, and chili powder in the other crock pot. Alternatively, you can just use a large pot on the stove if you aren’t like me and don’t have two crock pots. If using the crock pot, place the lid and cook on high. If going the stovetop route, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer with the lid on. The beans will take about 3 to 4 hours in the crock pot, but may take less time on the stove.
- In a saute pan on medium heat, cook the bacon until it’s crisp. When done, add the onions, green peppers, red peppers, and garlic and cook until soft. Set aside for now.
Cooked and ready, set it aside
- When the beans are mostly cooked through with just a little bit of firmness left, add the cooked onions, peppers, and bacon. If the beans have soaked up most of the liquid, add another cup of water or stock. Continue to cook until beans are soft and delicious.
Everything is in the pot. Don't do it this way!
- Now you can season your beans with salt, to taste.
Beans are done!
Not too shabby. A little taste of home.
By the way, Sam’s new Spring seasonal is quite tasty.
For the Salsa Verde
Makes about 2 cups
- 10 medium sized tomatillos (they were about the size of a clementine)
- 1/2 of an onion, small diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup of water
- Salt , to taste
salsa verde means green sauce
- Heat a small sauce pan on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.
- Remove the papery skin from the tomatillos and cut into quarters. Add to the pot.
Tomatillos are kinda like green tomatoes. Only not.
- Add water and cook on low with the lid on until tomatillos are soft and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- Using a hand blender or standard blender, buzz the tomatillos until it becomes a sauce with no chunks.
Sauce has been buzzed!
- If sauce is a little thin, continue to cook on low until it reduces. The sauce shouldn’t be too thick, but should coat a spoon.
- If desired, strain out the seeds through a sieve. Salt to taste and set aside
I'm surprised it made it to the plate
Serve up the beef with a few tortillas and a vegetable of choice (I just sauteed up some corn in butter.) As you can see, I threw on a little leftover homemade creme fraiche for some extra deliciousness.
Let me know what you think!