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Beef with Cactus Pieces

Nopalitos - chunks of an edible cactus - are used as a vegetable in Mexico, and are the basis of several salads, soups and bakes.

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900g/2lb braising beef, cut into 5cm/2in cubes
30ml/2 tbsp corn oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 or 2 jalapeño chillies, seeded and chopped
115g/4oz can nopalitos (cactus pieces), rinsed and drained
2 x 275g/10oz tomatillos (Mexican green tomatoes)
50g/2oz/½ cup fresh chopped coriander
Beef stock (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh coriander, to garnish


Serves: 6


Pat the beef cubes dry with kitchen paper. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the beef cubes a few at a time, until browned all over. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef cubes to a flameproof casserole or pan.

Add the onion and garlic to the oil remaining in the frying pan and sauté until the onion is tender. Add more oil if necessary. Add the onions and garlic to the casserole or pan together with the chillies.

Add the nopalitos and tomatillos, with the can juices, to the casserole. Stir in the coriander until well mixed. If more liquid is needed to cover the beef, stir in as much stock as needed. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a slow simmer, cover and cook over a low heat for about 2½ hour or until the beef is very tender. Serve sprinkled with the chopped coriander.

Cook’s Tip

Tomatillos (Mexican green tomatoes) are not to be confused with ordinary green unripe tomatoes. Look for them, canned, in speciality markets and food shops.

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