Tequila, lime, salt. Now that’s an established trinity of flavors. And it’s the base for a marinade featuring cayenne chilies, cilantro, cumin, garlic, and black pepper. By heating the marinade with a little sugar and butter you’ll have an intensely rich steak sauce. Serve those tequila marinated steaks served with some fiery patatas bravas and you have one heck of a meal.
Why a tequila marinade?
Well, of all the marinades I’ve ever used, this one produces an exceptionally tender, medium-rare steak that’s just bursting with beefy flavor. And it delivers those two seriously desirable effects quickly — just a couple of hours of marinating is just dandy.
Surprisingly, despite all its potent flavors, the marinade dedicates itself entirely to showcasing the qualities of a fantastic steak. It doesn’t photo-bomb those qualities and grab all the attention for itself.
However, when its strained and gently reduced over a low heat with some butter and sugar, you’ll really appreciate its big-hitting flavors as a winning sauce for your steaks.
Meet patatas bravas
Our tequila marinated steaks are served with ‘patatas bravas’ — fierce potatoes. They are crisply fried, bite-size chunks of potatoes are accompanied by a fiery, full-bodied tomato sauce. Although most famously served as a tapas dish (its origins are most definitely Spanish) these potatoes are great alongside the steaks.
The patatas bravas sauce deserves special attention. Seems to me you can’t go wrong with any form of fried potato and tomato — just think of French fries and ketchup. In this variant on that combo, the chunky pieces of potato are distinctly flavored by the hot olive oil they’re cooked in — creating a crisp outer coat that encases a floury inside.
And that crisp / tender mix is just perfectly complemented by the accompanying sauce’s deep tomato flavor, its chili kick, and the sharp-ish tang from a little vinegar. It’s no wonder that this is probably the most famous and most appreciated of all the many varieties in the tapas repertoire.
Add some garlicky mayo as a condiment and you’ll be serving a real celebration of seriously big flavors.
Tequila Marinated Steaks With Patatas Bravas
- 10-inch skillet
- 4 8 ounce sirloin steaks grass-fed beef, 28-days matured is the way to go. I like mine with about ¼ inch of fat on their outer edge
For the tequila marinade
- 2 cayenne peppers fresh, finely chopped, seeds and all
- 2/3 cup silver tequila no need for anything fancy – I used Olmeca’s ‘Tequila Blanco’
- 3/4 cup lime juice from a bottle is fine and easier, but use freshly squeezed for the best flavor
- 1/3 cup dark soy sauce if you have the mushroom flavored variety, so much the better
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and very thinly sliced
- ½ ounce fresh cilantro finely chopped, stems and all.
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
For the reduced marinade sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar heaped teaspoon
- 1 ½ ounces salted butter
For the patatas bravas
- 2 cayenne peppers fresh, finely chopped, seeds and all.
- 1 pound floury potatoes washed, un-peeled, and cut into bite-sized chunks. Russet potatoes work well
- 1 yellow onion medium-sized, peeled and finely chopped
- 18 red cherry tomatoes quartered with skins, seeds and all
- 1 can peeled tomatoes 14 ounce can, use juice and all
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground sea salt
- 1 ½ cups olive oil for frying the potatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil for making the sauce
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Marinating the steaks
- You want to do this two hours before you’re planning on cooking the steaks. Place the steaks in a bowl amply big enough to hold them all. Add all the marinade ingredients (but not the butter and the sugar). Turn the steaks a few times so they get a good soaking in the marinade.
- Cover the bowl and set it aside in cool place – but not in the refrigerator. Turn the steaks a few more times during their couple hours in the marinade.
Parboiling the potatoes
- About 30 minutes before you want to cook and serve the steaks, begin the patatas bravas by parboiling the potatoes. This pre-cooking will give you two grand results. First, it will cut the potatoes’ eventual frying time. Second, it will allow you to slightly rough-up the outsides of the potatoes – this helps get that really crisp outer coat when you fry them.
- Put a level teaspoon salt and the potato chunks into a saucepan and just barely cover them with cold water. Set on a high heat. The moment the water starts to boil, reduce the heat to low and let the potatoes gently simmer for five minutes. Drain them, return them to the pan and cover them with a slightly ajar lid. They’ll happily sort of dry a bit more in their own heat while you make their sauce.
Make the patatas bravas sauce
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-size sauce pan over a medium heat for about 90 seconds and then add the chopped onions, cayenne peppers, and 2 level teaspoons salt. Stir thoroughly, drop the heat to medium-low and let the mix cook gently for about 7 minutes with a few stirs. You want the onions softened but not browned.
- Add the cherry tomatoes, sugar, and apple cider vinegar, stir, and keep the heat on medium low for about another 5 minutes. You’re aiming for the cherry tomatoes to lose most their body. Then add the can of peeled tomatoes.
- Continue cooking on that medium-low heat until the sauce starts to simmer, drop the heat to low and cook for another ten minutes, stirring occasionally as the gently simmering sauce starts to thicken. You’re looking for a fairly thick consistency where all the tomato juice is incorporated into the sauce. Turn off the heat, done.
Cooking the steaks and finishing the tequila marinade sauce for the table
- Take the steaks out of the marinade and scrape off as much as you can. Use a clean dish towel to pat the steaks dry.
- Strain the marinade through a fine sieve and pour all the liquid into a small pan set on a low heat. Add the butter and sugar and stir until both have melted into the marinade.
- Set your skillet onto a high heat and while it’s heating, rub both sides of the steaks with about ¼ teaspoon of olive oil, half a teaspoon on each steak.
- Put a serving dish to warm in a very low oven. Once they’re cooked that’s where the steaks will rest while you fry the potatoes. The dish needs to be large enough to hold the steaks and the fried potatoes.
- Quickly arrange all four oiled steaks so they stand up right next to one another – fat side down – in the middle of the skillet. You’ll find the steaks will probably prop themselves one against the other in this upright position. What you’re looking for is to sear a good char on the fat and also melt out a fair bit of it – takes about 2 ½ minutes.
- Lay the steaks flat with the heat still on high. Let them cook for 3 minutes, turn them over and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Don’t be tempted to move the steaks as they’re cooking – just let them cook and then put them on the serving dish in the oven.
Fry the potatoes and plating
- In the same skillet, heat 1 ½ cups oil over a high heat. The moment the oil starts smoking, add all the potatoes, and stir them so they all get a coating of the hot oil. Now drop the heat to medium high. The process here is fry-and-turn for about five minutes so that you get a golden, crispy finish all over the potatoes.
- As the potatoes are cooking, warm their sauce over a low heat. Same story for the marinade sauce. You want both to be just barely simmering as the potatoes finish frying.
- As soon as that happens, use a slotted spoon to lift the potatoes from the oil and arrange them around the steaks on your warm serving dish – with the marinade sauce poured over the steaks. I like to slice all the steaks first so that everyone gets to choose how pink theirs will be.
keep it separate on their plate.
As for drinks to go with all the big flavors, I’d look to a semi-dry, fruity, sparkling white wine served icy – and I mean icy