I love this dish because, like my dad, I love steak. My mom loves to eat fish and vegetables mostly, but she can get on board when there are vegetables around the steak ... and, well, we all love a taco (plus tacos are a great way to stretch a more expensive cut of meat like steak!). Be sure to use good-quality tortillas, made from pure corn or flour with no additives — you should be able to smell the corn or flour through the packaging, imho! A couple of tips about steak for tacos: Look at the meat; you will see all cuts have a natural grain, like wood. Once the steak is cooked and rested, slice against those lines for the tenderest bite. Resting the meat is annoying because it’s hot and you want to eat it right away, but the truth is that the juices in the meat have to flow back through the meat once it’s cooked to make it juicy throughout. It’s worth the wait — if you slice the steak too soon, the juices will end up all over your cutting board instead (steak fail). Imagine the cabbage is like coleslaw on a deli sandwich or pickles on a burger. It’s the juicy, vinegary factor that connects the meat and the tortilla.
Technique tip: If using a meat thermometer, rare registers between 125 to 130 F; for medium rare, 130 to 135 F; and between 135 to 140 F for medium. If you like your steak a little more cooked, leave it in the pan for a few minutes longer on each side, but note that tougher cuts like hanger, flank and skirt like to be cooked on the rare side.
Swap options: Skirt steak is a great sub for a cut of meat. You can also use pork tenderloin if steak is not your favorite.
- 1 small head red cabbage, cored
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
- 1 (2-pound) piece hanger steak, trimmed of sinew
- kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 12-16 (6-inch) corn tortillas
- 1 large avocado, sliced or smashed, for serving
- kosher salt
- 1 small lime, juiced
Make the cabbage: You can shred the cabbage in a food processor or, with some adult supervision, slice with a mandoline fitted with a safety guard. You can also place a half on a cutting board and thinly slice with a large kitchen knife. In a medium bowl, toss the cabbage with the red wine vinegar, olive oil and Sriracha. Set aside for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours so the vinegar can work its magic.2.
Cook the steak: Season the steak on all sides with salt. Use a small strainer to evenly dust the steak with the chili powder. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to smoke lightly, remove the pan from the heat and use a pair of tongs to gingerly place the steak in the hot oil. Return the pan to the heat and cook the meat over high heat until each side is browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the steak from the heat and add the balsamic vinegar to the pan. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.3.
Finish: Warm the tortillas, one by one, in a nonstick skillet over low heat, turning so both sides puff slightly and get lightly charred. Alternatively, char the tortillas (on both sides) over an open flame for a few seconds. This is a step that should definitely be done with a parent/adult present to monitor the heat and for safety. Peel, pit and fork-crush the avocado. Season with salt and lime juice.5.
Assemble: Slice the steak, against the grain of the meat, into thin slices. Arrange some of the meat, avocado and cabbage in an even line down the center of each tortilla. Remember that the best-tasting tacos are the ones that have all the different flavors of the filling in each bite. Serve immediately, folding the edges into the center to form a taco.
Reprinted with permission from "Cook It Up: Bold Moves for Family Foods: A Cookbook" by Alex Guarnaschelli and Ava Clark copyright © 2023. Photographs Copyright © 2023 by Suech and Beck. Photographs Copyright © 2023 by Ken Goodman. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.