The first time I ate authentic Mexican steak gorditas was at El Mercado Juárez, in Monterrey, Mexico. When we would visit family in Monterrey, the mercado was one of our usual stops to pick up fresh produce and souvenirs and also to enjoy some of the most delicious foods around.
For this recipe, I was anxious to try out a new variety of masa harina that became available in my area. Instead of the usual white corn flour, or masa harina, this one is made from yellow corn. It’s supposed to yield a more flavorful and soft tortilla and gordita.
For a quick meal, you could simply fill the gorditas with beans and cheese or some of your favorite fresh guacamole. For a more substantial dinner, I prepared some steak for the gorditas. I was very happy with the results.
FOR THE STEAK
1POUND CHUCK STEAK OR CUT OF YOUR CHOICE
SALT TO TASTE
1TABLESPOON COARSE STEAK SEASONING STORE BOUGHT
1/2TEASPOON SMOKED PAPRIKA
1/2TEASPOON CHILI POWDER
FOR THE GORDITAS
1 3/4CUP HOT WATER
2CUPS YELLOW CORN MASA HARINA OR WHITE CORN MASA HARINA
1TEASPOON BAKING POWDER
1 1/2TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL PLUS MORE FOR COOKING
FOR THE SALSA VERDE
2-3LARGE TOMATILLOS WASHED AND QUARTERED
1CLOVE GARLIC SLICED
1TABLESPOON LIME JUICE
1/2TEASPOON RED PEPPER FLAKES OPTIONAL
SALT TO TASTE
For the Steak:
In a small bowl, combine the spices to season the steak and season the steak generously on both sides. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for now. For the Gorditas: Add water and salt to a bowl and stir just until salt is dissolved. Gradually add in the masa harina mixed with baking powder. Add olive oil and mix until soft dough forms.
Roll 6 equal-size masa balls. With a little warm water on hand, wet hands and using the palm of your hands, pat balls gently to form the gordita. If the edges crack, smooth over by rubbing a little water over the area. Place onto plate and cover. Set aside. For the Salsa Verde: While masa and steak are setting, prepare your salsa or other garnishes for gorditas. Place all ingredients for salsa verde in a glass bowl. Cover with paper towel and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Transfer contents to the blender. Add lime juice, pepper flakes and salt. Secure the lid by placing a towel over the top. Hold down with hand and pulse to blend. Taste for salt and pour into serving dish.
For the Steak Gorditas:
Remove steak from refrigerator and leave it outside until it reaches room temperature. Preheat cast-iron pan to medium/low heat for 5 minutes. When hot, drizzle a little olive oil into pan. Place 3 gorditas in pan, cover with lid and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook for another 3 minutes, more or less. Add another drizzle of olive oil to pan when you turn them. Keeping them covered while cooking creates a little steam, and the gorditas will puff up slightly.
Let the gorditas cool for just 1 minute. To cut open, place a few folded paper towels over each gordita. Using a small serrated knife, carefully slice open 3/4 of the way. Turn gordita as you slice. The paper towels keep your hands from getting burned while slicing. Gorditas slice better when they are warm. Keep gorditas warm in a low-temperature oven.
Preheat cast-iron pan to medium heat for 5 minutes or until very hot. Drizzle steak with olive oil on both sides. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to hot pan. Cook steak for 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer steak to cutting board and tent loosely. Slice, against the grain.
Fill gorditas with beans and steak. Garnish with cheese, guacamole, salsa and lettuce.