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Taco Salad With Tortilla Whiskers

To make up to a day ahead, shred lettuce (chill airtight) and make tortilla whiskers (store airtight at room temperature).

  • 3 corn tortillas (about 6-inches wide)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 pound boneless tender beef steak such as top loin (fat trimmed, rinsed and dried)
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 quarts finely shredded romaine lettuce (about 2 medium heads, inner leaves only)
  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cups guacamole (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 cups fresh or bottled tomato salsa

Stack tortillas and cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch wide strips. In a 12- by-17-inch baking pan, mix strips with 1 tablespoon olive oil, a good sprinkling of kosher salt and chili powder.

Bake tortilla strips in a 425-degree oven, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Pour out of pan, cool and store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Cut steak across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Stack a few slices at a time and cut into strips about 1/4 inch wide and 3 to 4 inches long. In a small bowl, mix vinegar, cumin and cinnamon.

Place a large nonstick frying pan over high heat. When hot, add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and quickly swirl to coat bottom. Add beef at once and stir just until browned on the surface and still pink in the center (cut to test) about 1 minute. Add vinegar mixture and stir just until liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute.

For a table presentation, mound lettuce in the center of a large, shallow bowl. Surround with tortilla whiskers. Layer beans, cheese, then steak evenly over lettuce. Top with guacamole and sour cream and sprinkle with green onions. Gently spoon salad onto plates; serve with salsa. If you prefer an even distribution of ingredients, make the salad on individual plates for serving. Makes 4 to 6 main course servings.

Guacamole: Pit and peel 2 ripe avocados (1 pound total). In a bowl, using a fork or pastry blender, coarsely mash avocados with 1 tablespoon EACH lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro and 1 small clove garlic, mashed. Add salt and cayenne to taste. Serve, or chill airtight up to 2 hours. makes 1 1/4 cups.

Sunset Magazine

Thursday, August 01, 2002

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