Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pepito (Steak Sandwich)

I love Mexican food in all forms, whether it's traditional or Americanized (fajitas, I'm looking at you!). I'm a huge fan of all the incredible spices used in Mexican cooking, and pretty much anything wrapped in a tortilla has got my vote. Wash it down with an ice cold margarita and it's a really good day.

In all my years eating Mexican food, I had never been introduced to tortas, or Mexican sandwiches. I guess I never thought a sandwich on bread (not wrapped in a tortilla) was truly Mexican, but apparently they are very popular street food in Mexico, so who am I to argue.

I am particularly intrigued by the pepito, which is a Mexican steak sandwich. This ain't no Philly cheesesteak, folks, but it is a darn good steak sandwich if you like your meat wrapped in carbs (I sure do!).

I quartered the recipe below, making a single weeknight sandwich for myself using a 1/4 pound of frozen (thawed) sirloin steak tips I had leftover from making something previously.

This sandwich is so easy to make, and comes together very quickly once you've gathered your ingredients. The steak is sliced thin so it cooks in seconds, and then once you grill your buttered baguette halves the rest is just assembly.

Slather some mayo and mustard on the top, a bit of refried black beans on the bottom, and garnish those slices of juicy steak with some thinly sliced onion, avocado, and pickled jalapenos, and the result is a well-balanced sandwich with a myriad of flavors and textures.

Creaminess from the beans and avocado mingles with tender steak and crunchy onion, with a hint of spice and acidity from the jalapenos. Holy moly, it sure is good! I will never overlook the almighty Mexican torta ever again.

Pepito (Steak Sandwich)
Makes 4
(From Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales)

1 pound boneless beef tederloin, or strip or rib eye steaks, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices (I used sirloin steak tips)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 generous teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 juicy lime
Olive or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 baguette, cut into 4 equal pieces and split
1/2 cup refried black beans, homemade or canned
3 tablespoons mayonnaise or crema
4 teaspoons Dijon or yellow mustard
Sliced pickled jalapenos, for topping
Thinly sliced white onion, for topping
Sliced ripe Mexican Hass avocado, for topping

Heat a large skillet or grill pan over high heat. Lay the beef on a large plate, and season it generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Pour the Worcestershire sauce and squeeze the lime over both sides of the beef.

Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet in a very thin layer. Working in batches to avoid crowding the skillet, cook the beef until browned on both sides, 30 to 45 seconds per side. Transfer the beef to a clean plate to rest.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Spread the butter evenly over the cut sides of the baguette. Cook the baguette pieces, buttered sides down, in the skillet until they are light golden brown and crisp, but still soft in the middle, a minute or two.

Spread a layer of beans (a tablespoon or two) over the baguette bottoms. Spread the mayonnaise and mustard over the baguette tops. Place the beef slices on the baguette bottoms, cutting and stacking the beef if necessary so it fits neatly on the baguette. Top with sliced pickled jalapenos, thinly sliced white onion, slices of ripe Mexican Hass avocado, and a pinch of salt. Cover with the baguette tops and press firmly but gently.


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