Steak and Bean Bowl with Guacamole

I’ve lived in Paris in several stages: there was my AUP stage, when I lived within walking distance of my university and rarely ventured outside of the 7th, save to go dancing at Bastille or shopping at the Bon Marché. There was my first full-time “writing” stage, where I lived on the limit of the 5th and the 13th, barely ever got out of my pajamas, and watched a lot of Everybody Hates Chris.

There was the period when I was doing my Master’s and working full-time and basically never saw sunlight for a year; there was the period when I had an office job and worked 12 hour days and also never saw sunlight for a year.

But in between, there was a brief period when I threw a lot of parties.

This was a time when very few of us had the money to actually go out to eat (or even to drink), and so we would congregate at someone’s house, everyone bringing their own beers or their own wine or their own tequila, which was very rarely shared. We would sit around until the wee hours of the morning, and when it looked as though people had had far too much to drink, I would somehow cook up a Mexican buffet: taco meat in chipotle sauce, refried beans, fajita peppers and onions, and so very much guacamole.


I don’t think I have the capacity for inebriated cooking anymore. (I also don’t think I have the capacity to be quite as inebriated as I was, back then, anymore). But I do still know how to make Tex Mex food, albeit in far smaller quantities.

If you have shishito peppers where you come from, they would be perfect in this dish; as it is, I do not, and so I have to opt for the chiles I find in the supermarket, some of which are impossibly spicy and others of which have no more kick than a green pepper. I guess it makes the dish a touch more exciting?


Steak and Bean Bowl with Guacamole (serves 4)

Note: I always cook more beans than I’ll need for this recipe; you’ll end up with leftovers.

1 pound dried black beans
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

20 ounces steak (flank steak or skirt steak) cut into 5-ounce portions
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon neutral oil

4 hot chiles or shishito peppers
1 teaspoon neutral oil
flaky sea salt

2 avocados
1/2 red onion, minced
1 small tomato, finely diced
juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper

First, cook the beans: add the beans to a heavy pot or Dutch oven, cover with water, and add the spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook 1-2 hours, adding more water by the half-cupful as needed. When the beans are cooked, season with salt and set aside. (The beans can be made in advance and reheated.)

Preheat a toaster oven to 400 degrees. Coat the peppers in the oil, and roast for about 10-15 minutes, until browned. Season with flaky sea salt and set aside.

Bring the steaks to room temperature. Combine the spices and coat the steaks with them evenly. Heat the oil over high heat, and cook the steaks for two minutes per side. Remove from the pan and allow to sit.

Make the guacamole: halve the avocados, remove the pit, and score them with a knife into a small dice. Scoop out of the skins and mash a bit with a fork, then add the onion, tomato, lime juice, and a touch of salt. Mix to combine.

Slice the steak into strips and assemble plates with a mound of beans, a few slices of steak, a pepper, and a scoop of guacamole. (Non paleo folks can also add rice.)