Bistec Encebollado is simply steak and onions. But there is nothing simple about this favorite Puerto Rican dish which is not only outstanding in flavor but also incredibly easy to make. Although I had already decided on using flank steak, I emailed a couple of Latin American friends to see what cut of meat they preferred. I was surprised to hear that they all use something different. From cube steaks to sirloin, each one had a different preference. How could that be?
I decided to stick with the tried and true-my beloved flank steak. I also like to use flank steak for a tasty Cuban dish I love known as Vaca Frita (fried cow). The bold taste of bistec encebollado comes mostly from marinating the flank steak over a long period of time (10-12 hours). The red wine vinegar in the marinade helps to tenderize the connective tissue of the meat. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that the onions do not overpower this dish.
Puerto Ricans usually serve bistec encebollado, and many other meat dishes with arroz con gandules, and maduros (rice with pigeon peas and fried sweet plantain respectively). Pigeon peas are a legume that grows year round. They belong to the same botanical family as garbanzo beans. They were first cultivated in Asia around 3500 years ago. Pigeon peas are enjoyed throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
Although you can certainly purchase them in the supermarket, it is not uncommon to see them at roadside stands when traveling through Latin America. Pigeon Peas (gandules) come in a pod much the same ways as peas and you must break the pod to get at the individual peas. The shell can sometimes be hard, so separating the bean from the pod is often a labor intensive process. The aroma and flavor of pigeon peas are almost floral, delicate. Their texture is similar to that of a bean. In many rural areas pigeon peas are a subsistence crop.
Growing up in the tropics, where gandules are plentiful, I became used to their constant presence in my house. At least once a week there would be arroz con gandules on the menu. I will admit, when I was little I did not like them. Not at all!! I thought they were really ugly and therefore equated their homely appearance to bad taste. Oh, the logic of a child! I did come around in my teens and started to like them. Now I think they are delicious. I still think they are ugly!
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar (paleo diet: red wine ok)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. salt (paleo diet: sea salt)
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 lbs. flank steak
- 2 medium onions thinly sliced
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- In a bowl mix together red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, oregano, cumin and garlic cloves.
- Place flank steak in a large freezer bag or a large rectangular glass baking dish.
- Pour marinade over it and refrigerate for about 8-10 hours.
- Prior to cooking, slice steak into ¼" slices on a bias.
- Heat olive oil in skillet on medium heat. Add onions; toss until translucent.
- Add chicken stock and bring to a boil for about 3-4 minutes.
- Transfer onion mixture to a bowl.
- In another skillet, place the remaining 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and quickly saute the pieces of flank steak until medium or well done.
- Place on a serving platter and spoon onion mixture over the beef.
- Serve with arroz con gandules and maduros.