Also known as chilli con carne, this spicy beef dish is true cowboy food from the north of Mexico. Some great but simple ingredients, a single pot and a little patience, are all that is required to make this classic recipe. The Anaheim peppers provide more smokiness and flavour than heat; you can use green bullhorn chillies or canned peeled poblano chillies if unavailable.
- 900 g chuck steak (the more marbled the better), cut into 4 cm cubes
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 white onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- water, to cover
- 4 green Anaheim chillies
- 5 tomatoes
- 16 flour tortillas, to serve
Salsa de chiltepin
- 2 garlic cloves, skin on
- 2 tomatoes
- 6–10 chiltepin (see Note)
- salt, to taste
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place the steak, salt, onion and garlic in a 2-2.5 litre-capacity, heavy-based straight-sided saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1½ hours, until the liquid reduces.
Meanwhile, use an open flame to cook the outside of the green chillies until charred. Quickly place in a bowl and cover to let them steam and soften. When cool, wipe the charred skin from the chillies (don’t use water to clean them as you will lose the smoky flavour), then split, remove seeds and tear into strips. Reserve.
Place a comal or flat frying pan over medium heat and roast the tomatoes, turning as they soften, for 8 minutes or until soft through and lightly charred. Remove from the heat.
When the liquid from the beef has reduced, check the meat for tenderness. If it requires further cooking, add 1 cup hot water and continue cooking until tender.
Meanwhile, to make the salsa, dry-roast the garlic and tomato on a comal or frying pan over medium heat for 3–8 minutes. Remove the garlic when toasted but not burnt. Remove the tomato when tender and slightly charred on the skin. Toast the chiltepin for about 30 seconds, or until slightly changed in colour. Remove and let cool.
Peel the garlic and crush with a pinch of salt and the chiltepin in a molcajete (see Note) or mortar and pestle. Add the tomato and crush roughly. Add more salt to taste.
When the steak is tender, allow the pan to almost dry and let the fat that has rendered from the beef gently fry and colour the ingredients. Stir occasionally to ensure the ingredients do not over-colour. After 5 minutes of gentle frying, add the roasted tomatoes and mash lightly. Stir all the ingredients to coat, then place the roasted pepper strips on top.
Serve the beef still in the pot, with warmed tortillas and chilli sauce for each person to serve themselves.
• Chiltepins are small fiery chillies sometimes known as chile pequin. If unavailable, chile de arbol or any dried red chilli with some heat is an acceptable substitute.
• The molcajete is a rough textured granite mortar and pestle used in Mexico. If using a standard mortar and pestle or blender, leave the salsa rustic and chunky rather than smooth.