Pasilla peppers are a staple in Mexican cuisine. These smoky and flavourful peppers are useful as the main ingredient in sauces (such as salsa endiablada – deviled sauce), cut into strips and crisped to top soups (for example, tortilla soup – sopa de tortilla), as well as in more elaborate dishes (famously in red mole – mole rojo and “tablecloth stainer” – manchamanteles). Although it might be more intuitive to pair pasilla peppers with red ingredients, such as tomatoes, it is not written in stone, and in this recipe, the unique combination of pasilla peppers with tomatillos, results in a wonderfully dark and rich sauce, bringing simple “steak and potatoes” to another level.
Steak in Pasilla Sauce – Bisteces en pasilla
1 lb (454 g) fast fry (thin) steak, such as tip sirloin or inside round beef
4 pasilla peppers
6 tomatillos; papery shells removed, washed
½ onion; peeled
1 clove garlic; peeled
1 tsp salt, or to taste
½ tsp black pepper, or to taste
¼ tsp ground allspice
2 large potatoes; washed and cooked, peeled (optional) and sliced into chunks
1 tbsp oil
Bring a pot with water to boil over high heat; add tomatillos, onion and garlic:
Cook just until the tomatillos start to change colour. Transfer tomatillos, onion, and garlic to a blender jar, and reserve water.
Wipe pasilla peppers with a wet cloth or towel, removing dust or other debris from the skin, and remove stems and seeds (photo below, left). Bring pot with water back to a boil, then add cleaned peppers (photo below, right):
Boil for a couple of minutes, then turn-off the heat, and allow the peppers to soak in the hot water until cooled down.
Transfer soaked peppers to the blender jar with the reserved veggies; add, salt, pepper and allspice, along with one cup of the cooking water:
Process for about one minute, until very smooth. Reserve.
I used inside round fast-fry steaks (photo below, left). In a large pan, warm up the oil over medium heat; add the meat and cook for one minute or two, per side (photo below, right):
Once the meat is browned on both sides, add the reserved sauce (photo below, left). Stir, to coat the steaks, lowering the heat to a simmer; cover and cook for ten minutes, then add cooked potato chunks (photo below, right):
If the sauce is too dry, add more water, and adjust seasoning with more salt, if needed. Simmer, uncovered, for a few more minutes, until the potatoes are hot. Serve steak and potatoes, coated with a generous scoop of sauce on top, and warm corn tortillas, on the side:
Any thin steak will work for this recipe, since even inexpensive, tough cuts, will tenderize during cooking:
I have mentioned comida corrida in other posts; they are full meals at low prices, served in small restaurants (called fondas in Mexico), particularly in Mexico City. The menus offer two or more different main dishes each day, from chicken, to beef or fish, and back, rotating on a regular weekly oscillation, and usually also include sopa de pasta (Mexican Noodle Soup), arroz a la mexicana (Mexican Style Rice), and frijoles de la olla (Beans from the Pot), with a side of tortillas and a glass of aguas frescas (refreshing beverages). When I worked at the Institute of Physics of the National University of Mexico (IFUNAM), I would sometimes go for lunch with co-workers and friends to our favourite fonda “del otro lado del metro” – “on the other side of the subway station“, the landmark to find a long strip of fondas and food stands, serving hundreds of hungry (and often poor) university students, and staff, for the equivalent of a couple of US dollars; I always tried to pick the days when bisteces en pasilla was one of the daily specials.
If fresh tomatillos are not available, cooked and canned ones will do in a pinch for this recipe; simply drain, and add them to the blender jar directly. For your convenience, click on the images below for products available on Amazon™. DISCLAIMER: Any reviews included in this post are my own, for items I have purchased, not provided by any company; as an Amazon Associates Program affiliate, I might receive a commission for any purchases originated from the links below, at no extra cost to you (thank you to readers who have bought other products starting with a click from my links!):
I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #507, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode. Many thanks to Bev for featuring my Watermelon Celebration at her party.