Steak Fajitas with Peperonata and Tomatillo-Walnut Mole


Serves 4 to 6

  • by from Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking
    Season 3, Ep. 6

If you can’t find blood orange vinegar, you can substitute lime juice or red wine vinegar.

For the peperonata
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin; more to taste
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium yellow bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup blood orange vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
For the toasted nut and tomatillo mole
  • 1/2 lb. tomatillos (about 4), husks removed, washed
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbs. sesame seeds
  • 2 cups lightly crushed corn tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth; more as needed
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice; more as needed
For the steak
  • 1- to 2-lb. piece boneless New York strip steak, 1-3/4 to 2 inches thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
For serving
  • 12 6-inch flour and/or corn tortillas, warmed through or charred on the stovetop
  • 5 scallions, green and white parts thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
Make the peperonata

In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of the oil over high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1-1/2 tsp. of the cumin. Cook until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add 1 Tbs. of oil to the skillet. When it begins to shimmer, add the peppers, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and the remaining 1/2 tsp. cumin and cook until the peppers are soft and charred in spots. Transfer to the bowl with the onion and let cool.

Toss onions and peppers with the vinegar, remaining 1 Tbs. of oil, and the cilantro. Adjust the seasoning as needed with salt, pepper, and cumin. Set aside.

Make the mole

Heat the oven to high broil with a rack positioned 3 to 4 inches from the top.

Arrange the tomatillos on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbs. of the oil and season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and toss until coated. Broil, turning occasionally, until completely blackened, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. When the tomatillos are cool, transfer to a blender with any accumulated juices and set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet, heat 3 Tbs. of the oil until it begins to shimmer. Add the onion, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and cook until fragrant and soft, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onion to the blender with the tomatillos, leaving the oil behind. Add the walnuts and seeds to the skillet and toast until just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add the tortilla chips and stir until incorporated. Transfer the mixture to the blender with a slotted spoon and let cool, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, cilantro, and lime juice to the blender and purée until smooth. Add additional chicken broth if necessary, until the mixture has the consistency of a medium-thick sauce. Adjust the seasoning to taste with additional lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil in a clean 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Transfer the mixture in the blender to the skillet, lower the heat to medium, and fry, stirring frequently, until the mixture turns light golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Cook the steak

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 475°F.

Dry the steak on all sides with paper towels. Generously season with 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and the cumin. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on high for 2 minutes. Add the oil to the skillet. When it begins to shimmer, add the steak and sear on all sides until it’s golden brown and caramelized. Transfer the steak in the skillet to the oven and roast for 4 minutes. Flip the steak and roast for another 4 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 125°F for medium rare.

Remove the steak from the skillet to a rack and tent lightly with foil for 15 minutes.


Thinly slice the steak. Fill the tortillas with steak, peperonata, mole, scallions, and jalapeños and serve right away.

Photo: Jody Horton

Recipe adapted from Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking.

Excellent flavors! A little bit of labor involved but I think well worth it and not a difficult recipe. I did have two issues (and I did follow the recipe to the letter, including the blood orange vinegar). I took the tomatillos out of the oven after 4" because of the amount of smoke building up in the kitchen. I believe it was from an excess of olive oil (only 1 T), some of which dripped from the tomatillos onto the pan. Next time I will use just enough to coat the outside of the tomatillos. The second issue was with the mole. I used over 1 cup of chicken broth and still couldn't get a medium-thick sauce. It was thick, more like the consistency of polenta. It was as if the crushed corn chips drank every bit up and wanted more! The flavor was great but I'm pretty sure the consistency was way off. I wonder where I went wrong...or if the amount of corn chips in the recipe was incorrect. Perhaps the ingredient should have read: "2 cups corn tortilla chips, lightly crushed." That would have resulted in more like 1/4-1/2 cup crushed chips.

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