Around 2008, my twin brother Mike and I were living in Indianapolis, IN. One of our favorite restaurants in the city was a hole in the wall, smoky Salvadoran restaurant serving up the most delicious pupusas; the Salvadoran national dish. These cheese, bean, or meat filled masa cakes are griddled until crispy and often served with a slightly fermented cabbage slaw called curtido and tomato salsa on the side. In my mind, not much is more satisfying than these.
Since I have such a love for the pupusa and the curtido that accompanies it, I regularly make some variation of curtido to serve with richer dishes. It’s freshness and crunchy texture really compliments many foods and also gives me the acid fix I need. It’s no coincidence that almost every culture has their own version of fermented cabbage; think sauerkraut, kimchi, curtido, and more. You may even argue that coleslaw falls into this family of foods, although I often find it to be overdressed, overly sweet, and not appealing in the traditional american form.
For this sandwich we decided to use the baseball roast. It’s a cut from the lower portion of the sirloin that is near tenderloin in texture with half of the price tag and a deeper flavor. Since my cousin Phil and I were playing some type of real life chopped episode in his kitchen, I just used the coleslaw mix he had in the cooler as the base of the curtido. Easy Breezy, but shaving cabbage is no real leap either.
Curtido Style Slaw
1.5 Cups shaved cabbage or coleslaw blend
2 Tablespoon Shaved onion, soaked in cold water for several minutes
1 Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1.5 Tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped or 1 tablespoon dried oregano
1.5 Tablespoon vegetable oil, lard or other lightly flavored oil
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon lime juice
- Put oil and crushed red pepper flakes into a very small pot and cook on low heat until aromatic, approx. 2-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, add all remaining ingredients and toss to incorporate.
- Lightly crush the cabbage with your hands soften the cabbage and allow the cabbage to release its liquid.
- Taste, adjust salt and acid if desired.
- If you prefer the lightly fermented version, transfer the curtido into a canning jar and press the cabbage down so that the liquid covers the cabbage. Cover with a cloth and leave in a cool dark place for 24-72 hours before serving.
Baseball Roast, approx 2 lbs
Salt and Pepper
- Season the baseball liberally with salt. Leave uncovered in refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or overnight
- Preheat cast iron skillet over high heat.
- Add a Tablespoon or two of high temp oil such as vegetable or canola oil.
- Sear every side of the roast until very deep brown
- Move to a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven and roast until you reach 128 degrees in the center-- aprox 20 minutes.
- Rest for 10-12 minutes before slicing thinly.
Build the sandwich
Chipotle chili powder
Aged, Sharp white cheddar cheese (optional)
Your favorite bread or bun (we used wheat rolls)
- Toast your bread (optional)
- Spread Mayonniase on each side
- Add sliced beef
- Add curtido
- Add Sharp Cheddar
- Sprinkle with Chipotle
- Crush this delicious sando