Reinvent Cube Steak as Crispy Open-Faced Tacos

Show: Chopped
Cube Steak Vaca Frita Black Bean Chalupa w Chillied Mango

Cube Steak Vaca Frita Black Bean Chalupa w Chillied Mango

Photo by: Petrina Tinslay

Petrina Tinslay

For this week's Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient cube steak. The key to cooking with cube steak is not overcooking the meat, because it can get tough. Typically used for chicken-fried steak, cube steak is often tenderized with a meat mallet to produce a thin cutlet, which makes it easier to cook and eat. But the technique the chefs came up with for making these Steak and Black Bean Chalupas was to sear the thinly sliced meat in a screaming-hot pan, and then simmer it in broth briefly to eliminate the need for tenderizing. Paired with mashed black beans — a take on refried beans — and a tangy chili-lime mango salsa, these open-faced tacos are filling and refreshing, perfect for Cinco de Mayo or a simple Mexican Night any day of the week with the family.

First, prepare the crispy tacos. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Lay the tortillas on a baking sheet and brush both sides with oil. Bake until crispy, about 10 minutes.

To cook the cube steak, start by seasoning with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Once the pan is nearly smoking, add the strips of beef and cook until all sides are brown. Sear in batches until all the beef is cooked. Leaving 1 tablespoon of the oil in the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium-high and add onions and a bit of salt. Cook until golden brown. Add the garlic and oregano. Add the broth and stir to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add back the beef and any accumulated juices, and simmer until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the remaining oregano, lime zest and lime juice for freshness.

To make the black beans, heat oil in a skillet and add chili powder to toast. Add black beans and broth, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Mash the beans, stirring occasionally until thickened.

For the chili-lime mango salsa, toss together the mangos, lime zest and juice, and chili powder, and season with salt. Assemble the chalupas: Put a thin layer of mashed black beans on each tortilla, divide the steak among the tortillas, and top with the mango salsa. Serve with lime wedges and pickled jalapenos.

The Chopped Dinner Challenge is a series of recipes showing you how easy it is to cook like a winning Chopped competitor. Every week, FN Dish will showcase a recipe created by Food Network Kitchen that uses at least one of the Chopped basket ingredients from an episode, plus basic grocery goods and simple staples. Consider it your very own Chopped challenge. Just take this frequent tip from the judges: Don’t forget to season!

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