How to Make La Condesa’s Famous Carne Asada
Chef Rick Lopez shares his recipe from the beloved Austin restaurant
Open in downtown Austin since 2009, La Condesa serves contemporary Mexican cuisine alongside one of the city’s best tequila selections. Rick Lopez, a native Texan whose resume includes time at Café Boulud in New York, became La Condesa’s executive chef in 2013, tasked with continuing the James Beard-nominated restaurant’s impressive run and putting his own stamp on the menu.
That menu includes handmade tortillas that are nixtamalized in-house, chapulines (Oaxacan grasshopper), and a rotating selection of fresh ceviche, but nothing turns heads quicker than when a large plate of carne asada hits the table.
“Carne asada in Mexican culture is a luxury and also a celebration,” says Lopez, who adds that grilling the steak is a nod to norteño-style cooking.
Lopez created the dish because he wanted a menu item that’s approachable, satisfying, and fun to eat with family and friends. “This dish was born out of comfort during the pandemic,” he says. “It’s simple and something that all meat eaters enjoy. It also keeps it real with the preparation of the beans.”
If you try making this recipe yourself, start with a good piece of meat. “At La Condesa, we dry-age our ribeyes for a minimum of 10 days,” says Lopez. “Dry-aging concentrates flavor and creates a better sear for the steak. Pick a cut of at least 14 ounces at your local butcher, and let it sit uncovered in your refrigerator for at least two days before you want to cook it to dry it out a little bit.”
Topping the steak with poblano butter adds a rich, peppery accent to the meat. “The butter is a neat trick that chefs have done for generations, but it makes home cooks feel accomplished and strong,” says Lopez.
La Condesa’s Carne Asada
For the poblano butter
- 1 pound of room temperature butter (let soften for at least 3 hours uncovered in your kitchen before use)
- 5 whole poblanos, roasted & chopped
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, zested
- Olive oil
For the black beans
- 1 can cooked black beans
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ¼ cup water
To prep the steak:
Pull from the fridge and let the steak get to room temperature for 3 hours. Season all sides with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
To make the poblano butter:
Season poblanos with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until they begin to wilt and the skin becomes loose and bubbly. Cover in a bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes before cleaning off outer skins. Chop them into small pieces, enough that when you mix the butter, some peppers are present in every bite.
Once the poblanos are chopped, add softened butter into the bowl and use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients. Unused butter will hold in the freezer for up to 2 months.
To make the black beans:
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer into a saucepot and cook down on medium-low heat until it is reduced by half. A nice, thick purée is what you are looking for.
To cook the steak:
Cooking a steak like this takes some patience. You may cook it either on a grill or inside, on a stovetop. When cooking, keep in mind that resting the meat after cooking is very important.
Cooking in a pan: Heat pan to medium and slowly lay the steak in and let cook for 5 or so minutes, rotating the meat as you build the crust on the outside. Do the same on the other side for 3 minutes. Turn over once more and cook the steak for another 6 to 8 minutes, still rotating and building the crust. Take off the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Cooking on a grill: You’re aiming for a hot grill, white coals and no fire. Grill the steak, rotating it often to build a crust on the outside.
To plate the dish:
Plate the black beans on a large plate by spreading them out a bit to create a base for the steak. Slice your steak in quarter-inch slices, and arrange the slices atop the beans. Dollop the poblano butter on the steak and garnish with a squeeze of lime and fresh black pepper to taste.
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