Puntas de res a la Mexicana—which translates to Mexican-style beef tips—have me wondering if they are possibly the original fajitas? The classic combination of sliced tender beef, bell peppers, tomatoes and onions is unmistakably fajitas. The definition of “Mexican-style” refers to the use of tomatoes, chiles and onions—a foundation of many Mexican dishes. But puntas de res pick up where fajitas leave off: A dry spice rub on the meat imparts a great deal of flavor, and a luxurious sauce coats the stewed beef, tomatoes and fresh chiles güeros that are mellow but have just enough of a kick and a whole lot of flavor. This dish is a classic and the flavor punch will keep you coming back for another tortilla-full. The best part? It comes together in under an hour, making it perfectly suitable for weeknight dinner. Chiles güeros can be easily found at your local Latino market or substituted with fresh jalapeño.
Working against the grain, slice the beef into thin strips about 1/2 inch thick and 1 inch long.
In a molcajete or mortar and pestle, crush the cumin, peppercorns, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt to form a coarse paste. (Alternatively, make the paste by finely mincing the garlic into a paste and mixing in ground spices until well incorporated. Reduce the spice amount in the recipe to half if using ground.)
Rub the paste all over the beef using your hands. Cook right away, or transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to cook, up to overnight.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot and shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and cook until lightly browned and fully cooked, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt.
Add the tomatoes, chiles and bell peppers. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened, the tomatoes have released their juices and the sauce coats the back of a spoon, 20 to 25 minutes. Taste and season with salt, about 1 teaspoon.
Serve in shallow bowls with a side of refried beans and piping hot tortillas.
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