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Chipotle-Glazed Steak and Avocado Salad
(recipe, Lourdes Castro)
I love steak salads. It must be something about the contrast in texture and temperature that I find appealing. The best steak salads give you meat that is juicy and flavorful with a charred exterior crust on the steak that goes great against the fresh, crisp lettuce. The glaze is the key to this salad because the sugars in it caramelize and create that crunchy exterior.
- ¼ red onion, sliced
- Red-wine vinegar
- 1 large (or 2 small) head butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 avocado, pitted and chopped
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2 canned chipotle chiles
- 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce from canned chipotles
- 1½ lb. skirt steak or flank steak (see Note)
- ¼ cup Mexican queso fresco or feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 Tbsp. roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
- Put the onion in a small bowl and pour in enough red-wine vinegar to cover well. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.
- Combine the lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado in a serving bowl or platter. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the red-wine vinegar from the marinating onion, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until you are ready to dress the salad.
- Combine the ketchup, honey, chipotles, adobo sauce, and 1 teaspoon salt in a blender and purée. Set aside.
- Preheat a grill to medium-high for 10 minutes or preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the grill grates or grill pan with the remaining tablespoon of oil.
- Season the beef on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill the meat for 4 minutes, turn over, and brush the glaze over the steak. Grill for another 4 minutes, turn over, and glaze the other side. Allow the meat to cook for another 2 minutes on each side to caramelize the glaze.
- Remove from heat and allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes before slicing into ½-inch-wide strips. (This is for medium-rare beef. If you want your meat cooked longer, increase the time you grill the beef before adding the glaze.)
- Pour the dressing over the lettuce mixture and toss well. Place the sliced beef over the salad and top with cheese crumbles, marinated red onions, and roasted pumpkin seeds. Serve.
Because they are so flavorful, both skirt and flank steak are great cuts for the salad. Both are long flat pieces of meat, but the flank steak is much leaner and can dry out easily, so keep your eye on it when grilling. Skirt steak is a bit fatty, so it may need to be trimmed a bit before cooking.
Glazes provide flavor and texture to grilled meat. In order to do so, they must contain sugar so that it caramelizes in the heat and creates a crisp exterior with a depth of flavor. The sugar in this glaze is found in the ketchup and in the honey. And, in the same way that sugars caramelize, they can also burn. Brush glazes (and barbecue sauces) on meat toward the end of the grilling to avoid a burnt, bitter taste.