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Guacamole adds spice to steaks

Guacamole is so good, I firmly believe it is wasted on tortilla chips.

So I decided to come up with a suitable platform on which it could truly shine. And since fatty foods -- even healthy ones like avocados -- have a delicious affinity for salty foods, I decided to play with steaks.

What I came up with was a simple marinated sirloin -- started on the stove and finished in the oven -- topped with a spicy, creamy guacamole. If you're a beef purist, you can skip the marinating of the steaks, but I found the vinaigrette added a wonderful zing to the meat that worked so well with the avocado.

This recipe is incredibly versatile. It's easily started ahead -- the steak can be marinated overnight. And it can be served as a generous entree (as described in this recipe), or cut into thin strips across the grain and served on toasted baguette rounds and topped with the guacamole for a party.

> Vinaigrette-marinated Sirloin with Spicy Guacamole

For the steak:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 1-pound sirloin steaks

For the guacamole:

2 avocados, pitted and skinned

1 small plum tomato, cored, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

Juice of 1/2 lime

Salt and ground black pepper

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt, black pepper and garlic.

Trim the steaks of any visible fat, then cut each into two portions. Add the steaks to the marinade and turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

When the steaks are nearly finished, heat the oven to 400 degrees.

To prepare the guacamole. In a medium bowl, combine the avocados, tomato, cilantro, jalapeno and lime juice. Use a fork to mash until chunky smooth, then season with salt and pepper. Cover, pressing plastic wrap onto the surface of the guacamole, then set aside.

Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy, oven-safe skillet over medium-high. Add the canola oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the steaks and sear on the first side for 4 to 5 minutes, then flip and sear on the second side for 3 to 4 minutes.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 4 to 5 minutes for medium-rare or until the steaks reach desired doneness.

Transfer the steaks to a cutting board, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve each topped with guacamole.

Servings: 4 entrees or 16 appetizers.

Per main serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 534 calories; 290 calories from fat (54 percent of total calories); 32 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 107 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrate; 52 g protein; 7 g fiber; 389 mg sodium.

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