I like fajitas. Recently, I was in the grocery store and the flank steak was speaking to me. It’s rare that meat speaks to me these days but for some reason, this flank was singing. A walk through the produce department and I knew I wanted to make fajitas, but a plated version. Here’s what I came up with…
Fajita can sometimes be more about the accoutrement rather than the protein. I wanted my fajita to be all about the meat. If the beef (fajitas=beef) were to take center stage, I needed to reimagine the dish. I decided to roll the flank steak in a tube (and set it with ActivaRM) and to cook it sous vide for perfect doneness edge to edge.
I thought about the sizzle platter running through a Mexican restaurant and giving you a table side facial. This was part of the fajita experience. When I staged at a Mexican restaurant, this was created by super heating cast iron plates, putting down some “Rajas” (sautéed onion, poblano, and garlic) topping it with the meat and ladling some chicken stock to create the sizzle. I knew I needed rajas on my fajitas.
Next was sour cream. I love the cooling effect that sour cream and avocado bring to fajitas. I decided to exaggerate this by creating a avocado/sour cream ice cream.
Lastly, I needed to produce the flavors of tortilla in a way that would work with my plated dish. So that I could get “tortilla” into every bite, I decided a crumble was the way to go. I gathered a few more ingredients and headed home. Here’s the process:
I laid the flank steak on plastic wrap and sprinkled it with ActivaRM (from a fine mesh strainer– like you would apply powdered sugar to a dessert). Then I carefully rolled it into a tight log. I rolled the log in two more layers of plastic wrap.
This went for a swim in a 55.5C water bath for 3 hours 28 minutes and 7 seconds. How did I know the precise time it would take to pasteurize the core of my roulade? Why the new PolyScience Sous Vide Tool box of course! If you’re cooking sous vide but not using this you should be!
By entering the protein, measurements, starting temp, and desired cook temp, the app for iphone and ipad calculates the perfect cook time using thermal coefficients and other fancy math.
While the beef was cooking, I started on the garnishes. A few cloves of garlic, sliced paper thin, fried, drained, oil reserved.
For the rajas, I peeled a poblano by torching the skin and scraping it off with a paring knife.
Once the pepper was peeled, I removed the stem and seeds, cut it into 1″ long x 1/4″ wide Julianne, and cut 1/2 onion to match. These were sautéed in some of the garlic oil and sea salt, and reserved.
To make the avocado/sour cream ice cream, I knew I needed some sugar to get the right texture on the freeze but I did not want it to be a sweet ice cream. I made a syrup with 15grams of isomalt (1/2 as sweet as table sugar) and 30 grams of water. I added the zest and juice of two limes to the hot syrup and allowed it to cool. The cool lime syrup was added to a pint of sour cream and one medium sized avocado to be mashed up and passed through a fine mesh strainer. This went into the stand mixer and got liquid nitrogen poured in with the mixer on low speed. My Standard Ice Cream process. the frozen ice cream was reserved in the freezer.
The last element was the tortilla crumble. I melted about 3 ounces of pepper jack cheese, and added 1/4 cup of masa to soak up the melted cheese. I cooked this over medium low heat until it smelled “toasty”. It was clumpy in the pan so I allowed it to cool before giving it a whirl in my Vitamix blender. The crumble still needed something so I reached into my freezer and found so cotija cheese powder (made by freezing cotija in liquid nitrogen and blending it into a fine powder). A couple tablespoons of the cotija powder completed the tortilla crumble.
For plating, I removed the beef from the water bath and seared it on all sides in a very hot pan. While the seared meat rested, I warmed the rajas in the pan used to cook the beef. Each plate got a couple medallions of the beef separated by a teaspoon of rajas. A few garlic chips around the plate and a not-so-perfect quenelle (need to work on my quenelle skills or get the gods to bestow onto me a crunk spoon like Philip Speer). Lastly, about one tablespoon of “tortilla” and a few large flakes of black salt dress the meat. Fajitas- EatDrinkEXPERIENCE style.
Recipe serves 4 (For Greggory Wright… the only person besides me who cooks with recipes from this site;)
For the Flank Steak
Flank Steak (about 1 pound)
Activa RM enough to sprinkle on, about 1 tablespoon
Black falk salt (or any large flake like maldon)
Optional: your favorite fajita seasoning… I didn’t use this but I would suggest applying it just before searing.
For the Rajas
1-2 Poblano Peppers
1 medium yellow onion
For the Garlic Chips
5-6 Cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Teaspoons salt
For the Ice Cream
1 Medium Avocado
1 pint Sour Cream
For the Crumble
3oz pepper jack cheese
1/4 Cup masa
1/4 Cup powdered (or crumbled finely) cotija cheese