Happy Cinco de Mayo all!  I love any excuse to eat Mexican food.  Recently when Joe and I were in  Kauai we walked over to a little restaurant called Monico’s Taqueria where we shared a plate of Steak Nachos.  It was a simple nacho platter with spicy marinated steak and melted cheese with Chile de Arbol salsa on the side.  After 2 weeks of Hawaiian food I was having withdrawal pangs for Mexican food and for me this was heaven on a plate.  The  arbol salsa goes perfectly with steak but I wanted more options.  So I added some more toppings which I hope you will enjoy. 

I made the Chile de Arbol salsa ahead of time.   If you have a spice grinder this will make for quick work.  I put a handful of arbol chiles in the grinder for a few seconds until I had coarse grind.

Measure out 2 tablespoons of ground chile.  Any leftover can be kept in a ziplock bag for a few weeks.  I have several different chiles that I grind on a regular basis so I make sure to label them.

Steep the chiles in a bowl with a cup of very hot water.

Meanwhile I’m going to chop a half onion with a small dice.

And get the rest of the ingredients ready to go.  You’ll need a couple cloves of garlic finely grated, some sugar, salt, mexican oregano, red wine vinegar, a can of fire roasted tomatoes and a can of tomato sauce.

Drizzle a medium saucepan with olive oil and add the onions.  Saute onions over medium high heat until they become soft and translucent.  Add the garlic and stir another minute more.

Add the can of fire roasted tomatoes.

Tomato sauce . . .

Sugar . . .

A pinch of Mexican oregano.

And finally the red wine vinegar and the chile de arbol along with the liquid.  I added a bit of salt, maybe 1/2 teaspoon or so, but I usually go lighter than most.    Turn the heat down low and simmer 5 minutes more.

Now this is optional but I like to run this through the blender and make it a bit smoother.   Make sure to let the salsa cool first.

That looks good!

This salsa compares to the Chile Piquin salsa but not nearly as hot.

Next up is Pico de Gallo.  A blend of fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, onion, garlic, cilantro and lime juice with salt to taste. This should be made the same day for freshness.

If you would like to reduce the heat, take out the seeds and ribs inside the jalapeno.

Chop everything and place in a bowl.  Add the juice of a half lime and salt to taste.

So many colors.

Instead of plain old sour cream, I’m going to make a green chile dip to dollop on top of my nachos. I started with a cup of sour cream, about 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro and 2 tablespoons diced green chile.

Some garlic and onion powder is what this dip needs.

About 1/2 teaspoon each plus salt to taste.  Mix it all together and let it set in the fridge for a couple hours to chill out.

So here are the supporting cast for the nachos.  Chile de Arbol Salsa, Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Green Chile Dip, Black Olives, Cilantro and Green Onions.  Something for everyone!

Now for the main event.  I found a skirt steak on sale which was perfect.  It was thin and marbled and promised to be tender.  I decided to season it with some Hatch red chile flakes, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and lime juice.  For those who like cumin it would probably go well here.  I like cumin in little doses and chose to leave it out this time.  I’ve had this Mexican Queso shredded cheese before and it’s fantastic,  plus you’ll want some big tortilla chips.

This skirt steak was about 1/2 pound and was enough for 3 plates of nachos.

I sliced it into bite size pieces.

I sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt and juice of 1/2 lime.

And drizzled it with olive oil.  If you can get the flavored olive oils, this Persian Lime is really good over seasoned steak.

I like to use a cast iron skillet for the steak.  Heat the pan on high and sear the steak on both sides.  Just a couple or 3 minutes will do.  This was the amount of steak I used for 1 plate of nachos.  Will cook the rest in batches.

Nice and caramelized.

I got this little hot plate while visiting my Sis in NM.  She took me to a little Mexican store where they had these heavy iron grill plates.  It’s not cast iron but is so handy to use on top of the stove or heat in the oven.  I thought it would be perfect to arrange the tortilla chips melt the cheese.

I added a good amount of cheese (couple handfuls) over the nachos.  Then I placed the steak on top.  Place into a 400 degree  oven for 3 – 3 1/2 minutes.  The chips will start to brown and the cheese will have melted.

Fresh out of the oven.  Now lets get to topping!

Mmm, Mmm!

I had to have just one!

Who’s next . . .

Ultimate Steak Nachos

1/2 pound Skirt Steak, sliced into bite size pieces
1/2 teaspoon Chile Flakes
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Salt
Juice of 1/2 Lime
Olive Oil, for drizzling
8 ounces Mexican Cheese Blend, grated
Tortilla Chips
Chile de Arbol Salsa, recipe follows
Pico de Gallo, recipe follows
Green Chile Dip, recipe follows
Cilantro, roughly chopped
Green Onion, sliced thin
Black Olives, sliced

Prepare steak by slicing into bite size pieces.  Season with chile flakes, cayenne pepper, paprika and salt.  Squeeze lime juice over steak and mix everything together.  Drizzle with olive oil.

Drizzle olive oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat.  Place a single layer of steak pieces in the skillet and sear.  Steak will start to caramelize and will become easy to turn in a couple of minutes.   Turn steak and sear on the other side an additional minute.  Remove steak pieces from skillet and sear any additional steak if needed.

Layer tortilla chips on an oven safe dish.  Sprinkle cheese over chips and add steak pieces.  Place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 3 – 3/12 minutes.  Tortilla chips will start to brown and cheese will be melted.  Remove from oven and transfer to a plate.   Serve with toppings of choice.

Chile de Arbol Salsa

2 tablespoons Chile de Arbol, freshly ground
1 cup Hot Water
1 (14.5 ounce) can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can Tomato Sauce
1/2 Onion, chopped small dice
2 cloves Garlic, grated on a microplane hand grater
1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
2 teaspoons Sugar
Pinch of Oregano
Salt to taste

In a small bowl combine the fresh ground chile and cup of water.  Steep for several minutes.

Drizzle olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Saute onion until it becomes soft and translucent.  Add garlic and saute a minute more.  Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan and stir.  Turn down the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes more.

If you would like a smoother salsa, pour contents into a blender and puree until desired consistency.  Caution** Let salsa cool before blending.

Pico de Gallo

2 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
1 Jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and chopped
2 cloves Garlic, grated on a microplane grater
2 tablespoons Cilantro, roughly chopped
2 – 3 tablespoons Red Onion, small dice
Juice of 1/2 Lime
Salt to taste

Combine tomatoes, jalapeno, garlic, red onion and cilantro together in a medium size bowl.  Spritz with juice of 1/2 lime.  Salt to taste.

Green Chile Dip

1 cup Sour Cream
2 – 3 tablespoons diced Green Chile
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt or to taste
Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl.