(courtesy of Lodge Cast Iron Nation: Great American Cooking from Coast to Coast by Lodge Manufacturing Co./Oxmoor House, 2014. Serves 4. Photo by Helene Dujardin)
Maya Dailey is the founder and owner of Maya's Farm, located in the urban setting of Phoenix, Ariz. Maya supplies certified-organic vegetables, herbs, flowers, and eggs to local markets, restaurants, and schools. Chile verde is one of Dailey's favorite comfort foods, which, not surprisingly, she makes with her own tomatillos and peppers, topping each bowl with a generous shower of torn fresh cilantro leaves.
3 dried Guajillo chiles*
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup sweet onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1½ pounds skirt steak, trimmed of fat
Radish-Tomatillo Salad (recipe follows)
8 to 10 (6-inch) fajita-size corn tortillas
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Crumbled queso fresco (you can buy local Sand Hill Dairy from Wedge Cheese Shop in Reno)
Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Add the chiles and toast, turning often, until they puff and become fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. (Chiles burn quickly, so keep a watchful eye.) Cut the chiles open with kitchen shears; remove the seeds. Cut off the stems. Place the chiles in a heatproof medium bowl, and cover with the boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, cumin seeds, and oregano, and cook, stirring, until the onion is just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Add the onion mixture, salt, and vinegar to the chiles and their soaking water, and process in a blender or food processor until smooth. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Wash and dry the skillet.
Pour chile mixture over the steak in a shallow dish, cover, and chill 2 to 4 hours.
Make the Radish-Tomatillo Salad below.
Lightly brush the tortillas with vegetable oil on both sides. Heat same cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, cook tortillas one at a time until slightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Wrap in aluminum foil, and keep warm.
Heat same skillet over medium heat. Remove steak from marinade, discarding marinade; don't wipe off any of the clinging marinade. Cook the steak in the hot skillet to your desired degree of doneness, 7 to 8 minutes per side for medium.
Remove steak to a cutting board. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before slicing against the grain into thin strips. Serve in the charred tortillas with Radish-Tomatillo Salad and queso fresco.
Dried chiles are easily found in the ethnic or Latin sections of local supermarkets. They are commonly sold in small cellophane bags and are nestled next to dried herbs and spices in similar packaging. If guajillo chiles are not available, substitute the same amount of New Mexico chiles.
(Makes about 2 cups)
1 cup radishes, cut into thin strips
1 medium tomatillo, husked and diced, or green tomato, diced
1 small Kirby cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
In a medium bowl, toss together the radishes, tomatillo, cucumber, salt, and sugar. Transfer mixture to a colander, and let stand 30 minutes. Transfer mixture back to the bowl, and stir in the cilantro, mint, and lime juice just before serving.