SALPICON DE RES
Shredded Beef Salad
Salpicon is not exactly a precise term. Depending on the context, it can refer to different kinds of hash or salad. In the Ciudad Juarez-El Paso border area where I began my catering career, it meant a colorful salad of shredded beef with other sliced or diced ingredients — onion, radish, avocado, and Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese were usual, but there was no one standard formula. It was great for parties because it could be served at room temperature with most of the preparation being done well in advance. It also made an ideal taco filling.
Today I find that minus the cheese, beef salpicon is a light but satisfying dish, good for either everyday meals or special occasions. The rich-flavored beef stock I get from cooking the meat is an added bonus. For the meat, choose a cut that can be easily pulled into shreds after cooking. I usually prefer flank steak. Brisket makes slightly coarser shreds.
A 2-pound piece of flank steak or flat-cut brisket
1 medium-sized white onion, unpeeled
1 whole head of garlic, unpeeled
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
½ to 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 medium-sized red onion
½ to 2/3 cup of any preferred vinaigrette-type salad dressing
A large handful of cilantro
1 Mexican-type avocado (Hass or Fuerte)
Place the meat in a 6-quart Dutch oven with the onion, garlic, pepper, and salt. Add 1 quart water, bring to a boil, and adjust the heat to low. Cook, covered, for 1 to 1½ hours, or until the meat is fork-tender. Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm in the cooking broth.
While the meat cooks and cools, peel the red onion and cut into medium-fine dice. Trim the radishes and slice into thin rounds. Prepare the chosen dressing.
Remove the cooled meat from the pot, letting it drain well. (Strain the stock and save it for a soup or sauce.) Place it on a cutting board and pull into fine shreds, using your fingers or two forks.
Pile the shredded meat onto a serving platter. Add the onion and radishes, reserving a little of each for garnish. Add 1/2 cup of the dressing and toss to mix everything thoroughly. Add a little more of the dressing if needed. Garnish with cilantro and the reserved onion and radish. Just at serving time, pit and peel the avocado, cut it lengthwise into wedges, and arrange them over the salad.
Serves 4 – 6 people
NOTE: If your schedule is tight, you can toss the meat with the dressing in advance and refrigerate it overnight. Let it warm to room temperature while you prepare the vegetables the next day.