Samantha Block – Associate Editor for America’s Test Kitchen Cookbooks Team
Book: America’s Test KitchenThe Complete Salad Cookbook
pinto bean, ancho, and beef salad with pickled poblanos
why this recipe works This salad pays homage to the Mexican ingredients that inspired its creation. Ancho chiles, frequently used in Mexican cuisine, are dried poblanos; we employed both fresh and dried forms, using ancho chile powder as a rub for our steak and quick-pickling poblanos for sweet-sour spiciness. Grated jicama brought crunch to our salad of pinto beans, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice. The dressed salad made a refreshing counterpoint to the rich, chile spice–rubbed skirt steak, which we seared in a skillet. Crumbled cotija gave the dish an umami, salty bite. Finally, we sprinkled the salad with finely chopped unsweetened chocolate. Its complex bitterness and aroma rounded out the dish. Be sure to slice the steak thin against the grain or it will be very chewy. It is important to chop the chocolate fine, as bigger pieces of chocolate will be overpoweringly bitter.
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt, divided
4 ounces poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 (1‑pound) skirt steak, trimmed and cut into thirds
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 (15‑ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed
12 ounces jicama, peeled and grated (11/2 cups)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems, plus extra for sprinkling
3 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes)
1 1/2 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled (1/3 cup)
1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine (optional)
1 Microwave vinegar, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl until simmering, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk to dissolve any residual sugar and salt, then stir in poblanos. Let sit, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2 Meanwhile, pat steak dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with chile powder, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12‑inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add steak and cook until well browned and meat registers 120 to 125 degrees (for medium-rare), about 2 minutes per side. Transfer steak to cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.
3 Gently toss beans, jicama, onion, cilantro, lime juice, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to combine, then transfer to serving platter. Slice steak thin against grain and arrange over top of salad. Sprinkle with cotija; chocolate, if using; poblanos; and extra cilantro. Serve.