Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Seared Ribeye with Tamale Polenta and Avocado Cilantro Salad

This dish was inspired by a taqueria favorite, the beef tamale! I took all the delicious flavors and reinterpreted it into a refined and elegant meal, perfect for your next dinner party. I used masa de harina, a commonly available dried corn flour that is used to make tortillas and tamales, in which the corn is soaked in lye water. This gives a slightly alkaline flavor and increases the availability of lysine and tryptophan, making the corn more nutritious. I used the masa to make a "tamale" polenta - a savory, rich, and comforting foundation for the dish. I layered perfectly seared ribeye steak on top of the polenta and topped it off with a mound of buttery tart avocado cilantro salad. These flavors balance one another and create a dish so delicious, it will be a huge hit for your next fiesta!

Seared ribeye:
  • 1-2 ribeye steaks at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron or other heavy skillet on medium-high heat until it just begins to shimmer. Meanwhile, season the steak (top and bottom) liberally with salt and pepper. When the skillet is ready place the steak on the skillet and cook each side for 5-7 minutes, until a nice dark crust has formed and the steaks are done to your liking. Remove the steaks and set them on a plate, tent the plate with foil, and rest for 10-15 minutes. You should remove the steaks from the heat when a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 120 (for medium-rare) to 130 (for medium) degrees, as the center temperature will rise another 5-10 degrees while resting. Resting after cooking most meats on high heat is essential, as it allows the juices that were squeezed to the center to redistribute throughout. Without it, you'll end up with a drier steak and a puddle of liquid.

Tamale polenta:
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1 cup masa flour
  • 16 ounces salsa
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 serrano chile, minced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream

While the steaks are cooking start preparing the polenta by bringing the water to a boil on the stove top. Add the masa and whisk until thick, 2-3 minutes. To the polenta add one jar of your favorite salsa, or use my recipe for fresh homemade salsa in less than 5 minutes! Add the serrano if you want a little more kick. Turn the stove top to low to keep the polenta warm until serving. Right before plating mix in the monterey jack cheese and sour cream, and season with salt to taste.

Avocado cilantro salad:
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 serrano chile, minced
  • 1 tsp salt

Peel and dice one large ripe avocado and place it into a medium bowl. Immediately drizzle a little fresh lime juice over the avocado to prevent oxidation (responsible for browning) and add the cilantro and arugula. Prepare the dressing by vigorously mixing the remaining lime juice, finely diced serrano pepper, salt, and olive oil. Drizzle the salad greens and avocado with the dressing and toss until everything is evenly coated.

To plate this dish cut the steak into thick slices, making sure to add whatever steak juices remain on the cutting board to the polenta. Layer the bottom of the plate with the polenta, then fan out the steak slices and generously top with the salad. Enjoy!


  1. Love the spicy polenta. That creaminess just sets the steak off!

  2. Wow this looks delicious and the spicy polenta sounds amazing! I def have to try.