Even without the chipotle, this dish of warm corn tortillas wrapped around slices of seared beef and caramelized onions is Mexico’s taquería crowd-pleaser, captivating crowds of tourists and nationals alike. Round out the meal with some black beans and a salad.
What to buy: For the greatest tenderness, make sure to choose thicker outer skirt steak and cook it medium. (The thin inner skirt that most taquerías and street vendors use is best cooked well-done and chopped into small pieces.) Flank steak is most tender when cooked medium rare and thinly sliced.
1Heat the oven on its lowest setting and arrange a rack in the middle. Place the chipotles and adobo sauce in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment or a blender and process until smooth. Using a brush, lightly coat the steak with the chipotle purée (go a little heavier on the flank than the skirt steak; you’ll have chipotle marinade left over—cover and refrigerate for up to several weeks). Cut the steak crosswise into 6-inch pieces.
2Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until golden but still crunchy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl or dish, leaving as much oil as possible in the skillet, and place in the oven to keep warm.
3Return the frying pan to medium-high heat (or medium heat for flank steak), add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the steak and brown on both sides, cooking until it reaches your desired doneness (about 3 minutes per side for medium skirt steak, about 5 minutes per side for medium rare for a 1-1/2-inch-thick flank steak). Transfer the steak to a wire rack set over a plate to rest, about 5 to 10 minutes.
4Slice the skirt steak into roughly 3-inch lengths, then cut each piece against the grain into 1/4-inch strips. For flank steak, cut it straight down against the grain into 1/4-inch slices; on the thick end, you may want to cut the slices lengthwise in half into thinner strips.
5Place the meat in the bowl with the onions, add the measured salt, and toss to combine. Taste and season with more salt as needed. Serve with the warm tortillas and salsa or hot sauce.
Steak Taco Riffs from Rick Bayless: I’ll bet you’re already thinking about firing up the grill for cooking the beef and onion, which will, of course, make this fabulous dish Elysian. Red onions cook up sweeter than the white ones, which many people prefer—but not me. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts make tasty chipotle-and-caramelized-onion tacos; and don’t overlook catfish.