It’s Friday and so that means we have several reasons to celebrate. We can be happy that the work week is finally coming to an end, for many of us, and we can get excited that it’s time for another installment of my favorite segment on the blog, Cheers to the Weekend. Over the course of this segment I’ve brought you breakfast recipes, appetizers, desserts, and of course cocktails. All perfect for entertaining or just living life on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This time around though I’m bringing you something from my childhood. A dish you can make for your family on a Saturday or Sunday evening. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on here that my grandparents were from Nicaragua. I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish much or knowing a lot about Nicaragua in general, or my grandparents for that matter, as they passed away before any of my sisters and I were born, but I did grew up eating a few Nicaraguan dishes here and there that my mom would make for us. Although she was born here, she learned a lot of those dishes from her mother and so she made them for us when we were growing up. One of those dishes was this salpicon I’m about to tell you all about. Salpicon is probably a word you don’t hear often, if ever, but it’s a dish you should most definitely become familiar with because it’s super easy to make and incredibly delicious. If you have a food processor, and half an hour to spare, you can make this dish with no effort at all.
It’s basically finely chopped steak mixed with finely chopped bell peppers (red or green, although we eat it exclusively with green bell peppers in my family), onion, lime juice, salt and pepper. That’s it. It’s really not at all fancy and rather inexpensive to make, but it’s out of this world. My family eats it cold from the fridge— almost like a ceviche with the lime juice and salt, although the beef is fully cooked here—served with steamed white rice on the side or on top of it. As a kid, and to this day actually, whenever I eat it, I always end up mixing the salpicon and rice together to form one mixture. Something about that hot rice and cold beef mixed together that makes it a delicious combo. I can go on and on about it, but I still l won’t do it justice. You just have to try it for yourself, so you can understand what I’m talking about. Let’s Cheers to the Weekend with your new favorite dish! A little bit of my childhood straight to your own kitchen!
Let’s talk about this beef for a second. Eye of round steak. It’s a relatively inexpensive cut of beef because if you try to cook it like a regular steak it’ll be rather tough and unappealing. So it leads itself really well to braising or what I’m planning to show you right now. In a pot combine the steak, onion, bell pepper, garlic, peppercorns and enough water to cover it by 2-inches. Bring to a boil and cook until cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
**Tip: Eye of round steak doesn’t have much flavor as it is, so you have to add flavor to the poaching liquid. We’re going to discard the onion and garlic and bell peppers with the water, later on so we’re just cooking the beef with them to infuse as much flavor as possible.**
Once a fork goes through semi-easily, then you’re good to go and it’s done. Transfer the beef to a plate or platter and let rest until cooled to room temperature. Again, just discard the water and veggies that the steak poached in, we don’t need that anymore.
Cut the cooled steak into large chunks and place it into a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and resembles coarse crumbs. If need be, stop the machine a few times and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, to make sure the beef gets chopped evenly. Transfer the chopped steak to a large mixing bowl.
**Tip: This is a lot easier if you have a food processor because it chops up the steak pretty finely and if you try to do it by hand, it’s going to be quite the effort. My mamma always tells me that my grandmother would make this dish by hand, with just a cleaver, and she’d be there just chopping it by hand like it was nothing. So keep that in mind.**
Add the roughly chopped onion to the food processor, you don’t even have to clean it, and pulse until finely chopped. You want it to be the same size of the steak, so keep pulsing until you get the right texture. Pour out into the mixing bowl with the steak, and then add the roughly chopped bell pepper to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped as well.
**Tip: To get the right consistency of the onion and bell pepper, I recommend pushing the pulse button a few times, rather than just pushing the on switch. By pulsing a few times, it’ll chop up the onion and bell pepper rather than purée it, if you were to just leave it on.**
Squeeze in the juice of two limes to the mixture and season liberally with salt and black pepper. This is a lot of beef, so make sure you don’t skimp away from the salt and lime juice. Give it a big stir and taste it. Adjust seasoning as you see fit, adding more lime juice, salt or pepper as needed. I find that this dish is really a sponge that absorbs a lot of flavor, so don’t be shy when seasoning it.
For the most optimal flavor, I like to wrap it in plastic wrap and letting it chill for at least 1 hour. The longer it sits, the more flavorful it will be. I always grew up eating it cold but if you’d like, you can serve it at room temperature or even fry it up in a large skillet with a little bit of butter or oil, until warmed through. Again, my mom just serves it cold from the fridge.
**Note: You can make this up to 2 days in advance and just keep it stored in the fridge until ready to serve. If you do plan on making it ahead of time, give it a taste before serving and adjust seasoning as needed.**
I know you must be thinking, how do you serve this? What do you eat it with? Traditionally it’s served with white rice on the side. As kids, we’d eat the rice hot, obviously, and the salpicon cold. We’d mix the to two together on our plates until evenly combined and eat it as one mixture. My mom serves it, to this day, with fried plantains on the side and fried cheese.
Plantains are those dark green jumbo looking bananas. They’re super starchy and when fried kind of resemble potato chips. Peel the plantains and then slice them super thin with a mandolin and fry until golden and crisp.Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt. For the cheese, it’s just Mexican cotija cheese that’s slices and pan fried with a little bit of oil until crispy on both sides. Super easy, and even though it might sound a bit strange, I promise it’s amazing!
My mom fries plantains two ways. This thin potato chip kind of way, or she’d make tostones. That’s when you cut the plantain into 2-inch round, fry on both sides, smash down, and refry until crisp. If you’d like to learn how to make those you can check out this post I have from a while ago, Queso Fundido with Tostones. Or she’d make sweet plantains instead. That’s when those green plantains get ripe and turn black on the outside. They become soft and sweet.
Both the plantains and cheese are optional though. You can just serve it with the cooked white rice and be good to go. Either way, I hope you give this dish a try. It’s super easy to make, but super tasty. I grew up eating it all the time and I know you’ll love it. It’s a little bit of my childhood rolled into one dish. My mom still makes it all the time whenever I go over. Get in on this too!
If you make this recipe, along with any other recipe from the site, be sure to snap a picture and share it on Instagram or Facebook and tag me and hashtag it with #CandidAppetite or #TheCandidAppetite. Once you start making these Cheers to the Weekend recipes, be sure to also tag it with #TCAweekend! I’ll be monitoring it all closely and share my favorites throughout! Happy Cooking!
- 2 pounds eye of round steak, sliced into 2-inch rounds
- 2 medium green bell peppers
- 1 large yellow onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 medium limes, juiced
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Cooked white rice, for serving
- Fried plantains, for serving
- In a large pot, combine the steak, 1 chopped green bell pepper, ½ chopped onion, garlic cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves and enough water to cover the steak with about 2-inches of water. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until the beef is fully cooked through and a fork goes through somewhat easily, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the steak from the poaching liquid and set on a plate. Discard poaching liquid, and let beef cool completely.
- Once cooled, cut the steak into large cubes and place in a food processor. Pulse until the steak is finely chopped, about the size of Panko bread crumbs. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Place the remaining chopped bell pepper in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped, about the same size of the beef. Transfer to the bowl of the beef. Add the remaining half of onion to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped as well. Add to the beef and bell pepper mixture, along with the juice of two limes, salt and pepper. Give it a big stir until it's all evenly combined. Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings accordingly, adding more lime juice, salt or pepper as needed. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
- The salpicon is meant to be eaten cold with warm cooked rice, but if you prefer, you can serve it at room temperature as well. Enjoy!