I’m a big fan of recipes that incorporate a variety of vegetables with a basic protein in one easy-to-assemble dinner. And when a meal is versatile and can be customized with optional toppings, chances are everyone will be happy!
The following recipe offers a unique method of preparing flank steak—in a slow cooker with not a drop of liquid. As it cooks, the steak produces and steeps in its own natural juices, resulting in incredibly tender beef.
The use of a simple Tex-Mex inspired spice rub elevates this slow-cooked combination and makes tacos or fajitas a fitting serving option. A bed of rice is an equally satisfying choice, and the flavor afforded by a few spice cabinet staples lends itself to traditional taco toppings like avocado or guacamole, salsa, and shredded lettuce.
As a bonus, I occasionally mix up a spicy-sweet salsa to spoon overtop of the savory flank steak combination. The optional topping began as a spin on a pineapple mint salsa I have long used for grilled lamb chops. I swapped the mint with cilantro and added sweet mango for a light, slightly sweet topping that complements a variety of south-of-the-border recipes.
Any ripe mango may be used in the salsa. However, Ataulfo or champagne mangos are especially sweet and creamy and are less fibrous than other common varieties. With their high flesh-to-seed ratio, Ataulfos make an ideal choice in any recipe calling for mango–or simply to eat as is. Interestingly, though they are much smaller than the mangoes we see in stores year round, the fruit yield per mango—about one cup–matches other common varieties. Widely available from March through July, their skin will turn a deep golden color and small wrinkles will appear when fully ripe. Squeeze gently to judge ripeness–they should be a bit softer than you might expect. (Click here for easy cutting instructions.)
Yields 8 servings.
- 2 pounds flank steak
- 2 small to medium onions, chopped or sliced (I often use 1 red, 1 yellow; 2 of the same is fine)
- 2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped or sliced (I like red and yellow; again choose what you prefer)
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (leave some seeds for a little heat; I have substituted 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- For serving: corn tortillas, flour tortillas or cooked rice
- Optional toppings: [Mango Pineapple Salsa|http://fountainavenuekitchen.com/mango-pineapple-salsa/] or regular salsa, chopped avocado, guacamole, cilantro, lime wedges
- Layer half of the onions and peppers in the bottom of your slow cooker. Top with the flank steak. (For easier shredding later and shorter, less stringy pieces, I like to cut the flank steak into four or five pieces, crosswise, before placing it in the slow cooker.)
- In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt. Evenly sprinkle over the flank steak, flipping the meat to get some of the spice mixture on both sides.
- Top with the remaining onions, peppers, and the minced jalapeño.
- Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours (or on high for 3 to 4 hours) or until the flank steak can be easily shredded with two forks. For ease, remove the steak to a dinner plate to shred.
- At this point, you may place the meat back in the slow cooker for up to another hour or serve immediately, mixed with a little of the juice as desired.
- Heat tortillas, if using, or serve over rice. Top as desired and enjoy!
- Though no liquid is added to the slow cooker, flavorful juices will develop as the meal cooks. When using the steak mixture in tacos or fajitas, you may wish to first drain the juice to minimize messy dripping. When serving over rice, I like to return the shredded meat to the slow cooker, as the rice will act as a sponge for the savory liquid. When we have leftovers, I mix the remaining rice with the meat and juice. Not only do the flavors meld and improve with time, the rice plumps up as it absorbs the cooking liquid, seemingly stretching the leftovers and creating a mixture that is ideal for tacos or burritos—or simply as is--the next day.
Cutting the flank steak, crosswise, into four or five pieces makes shredding easier later–and no long, stringy pieces!
For added ease, chop the vegetables in advance–even the night before–and store them in an airtight container or a bag in the fridge. You can even mix the spice mixture in advance.
Mango Pineapple Salsa is optional…but highly recommended!
Other recipes you might enjoy…
Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken — 5 basic ingredients with options to customize
3-Ingredient Chuck Roast in Foil — incredibly tender meat that will make your kitchen smell amazing…and so easy