Sometimes cooking can be hit or miss. Frankly, I have more hits than misses, but unfortunately, dinner on Sunday fell into the miss category. I've been cooking my way through Mexico, One Plate at a Time as part of the cookbook of the month cooking experience on Chowhound . I chose an easy recipe, one that wouldn't require a huge amount of time, technique or skill, the Flank Steak with Roasted Poblano Chile and Tomato Salsa. I did trade out the flank steak or a flat iron steak, but that really had no bearing on the final result.
I love working with fresh chiles. I love the way they look, the way they feel, and the spicy, earthy way they make the house smell when they're roasting. Not to mention they're a fabulous source of Vitamin C! The first step in the recipe was to roast the chiles, tomatoes, onions and garlic
Since I don't have a gas range or broiler they had to go under the electric element in the oven. The recipe indicated 5 minutes per side, a time frame I found too short. This could be a function of the fact the oven I was using is 40 years old and the broiler element might not be that hot. Or it could be a function of the time in the recipe being too short. But after 5 minutes, this is what the chiles and tomatoes looked like.
The skin on the chiles will blister much quicker than that on the tomatoes. The biggest challenge I've always had with trying to char chiles under the broiler is to not over cook them so that they end up being too soft and mushy. The charred chile needs to retain some structure and bite to their texture. The chiles came out after about 15 minutes total under the broiler............
........... and the tomatoes after about 20-22 minutes. Far longer than the 10 minutes total called for in the recipe. Already I was not off to a good start with this recipe, the roasting and toasting had taken twice as long as it should have. But the chiles and tomatoes looked pretty good after they were done so I figured we were still on the right track.
Then I moved on to charring the onions and garlic. While the onions were roasting I skinned the chiles.
They look rather like the swamp monster from the green lagoon or something don't they. But they were not overcooked. Then it was on to peeling and coring the tomatoes
Once again the onions and garlic took longer to cook than the recipe indicated it should, and I wasn't as happy with the char I got on the onions. Mostly the onions wanted to burn rather than turn a nice shade of "deep golden brown", but the garlic came out nicely roasted. I guess it was a trade off. So I dumped them into the food processor and pulsed a few times to chop.
Then added the tomatoes and pulsed a few more times
Chopped the peeled chiles and folded them in.............
Half the salsa went back into the food processor along with a little olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, some sugar and some salt. Looks a little disgusting doesn't it.
Anyway, I ended up with 2 salsas. One a puree to be spread on the steak before and during cooking, the other to be served on top of the finished steak.
I cranked up the broiler once again and slathered the pureed salsa onto the flat iron steak.
Anything you can do with a flank steak you can do with the current trendy darling of the meat industry, the flat iron steak. A more accurate name is probably top blade steak since it is actually derived from the tender top blade roast by cutting it in half horizontally. There is a sinewy connective tissue running through the roast, splitting it in two seems to mitigate that connective tissues somewhat. Most flat iron steaks are quite tender and any remnants of the connective tissue easily removed.
After about 10 minutes under the broiler, I flipped it over, slathered on some more pureed salsa, cooked it another 10 minutes and then let it rest while I finished the rest of dinner.
Served with black beans cooked with onion, garlic, epazote and drizzled with crema, and some steamed broccoli we called it dinner
And it'll have to be the side shot because the aerial photo from the top down didn't turn out. The black beans were great, the steamed broccoli cruciferiously crunchy and the steak tender. Unfortunately, I didn't care for the taste of the salsa and it certainly didn't add much to the steak. I just wasn't that thrilled with the end results.
I looked at the left over pureed salsa and the left over salsa and wondered whether to throw them out or save them. I decided not to worry about it and transferred both salsas to a refrigerator container and figured I'd be like Scarlett O'Hara and worry about it another day. 4 days later as I was looking at a couple pork tenderloins and wondering what to do with them I remembered the container of salsa in patiently waiting in the the refrigerator. So I browned off the tenderloins poured the salsa over them, added a bit of chicken stock to thin it down and popped it into the oven to finish. The salsa went far better with the pork than it did with the beef, but I still didn't care for it. By now it was clear, this recipe just wasn't a keeper.