Originally published June 2014. Updated November 2017 by Analida
Bistec Encebollado is simply steak and onions. This Puerto Rican dish is outstanding in flavor but also incredibly easy to make.
From cube steaks to sirloin, all my friends have 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 (8-10 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).
Now here’s something about gandules or pigeon peas.
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!
Here are the steps to make a great bistec encebollado.
Step 1: Mix your marinade ingredients in a bowl or drop them into a ziptop bag that has the flank steak inside.
Step 2: Seal the zip top bag and be sure all the marinade is coating the steak on all sides then refrigerate for 8-10 hours.
Step 3: Remove the flank steak from the bag and slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices against the grain of the meat on a slight bias oe angle. Set the meat aside.
Step 4: In a large pan place the onions in some hot olive oil and toss them until they are translucent. Do not brown them.
Step 5: Add the 1/2 cup of chicken stock and bring to a boil for about 3-4 minutes.
Step 6: Let the chicken broth fully integrate into the onions and simmer until you see no more liquid in the pan. This will make the onions soft, juicy and luscious!
Step 7: In another skillet get your olive oil hot and quickly sauté the flank steak until medium or well done.
Step 8: Add the onions to the steak and serve.
If you love Latin American food then you have to try some of my favorite dishes or bookmark them for later. Here are some of the most popular ethnic dishes, their history and ingredients to make at home.
Mexican Pork Carnitas: Make this in the slow cooker, like pulled-pork, and then broil for crispy goodness.
Cuban Ropa Vieja: A true comfort food of slow cooked beef served over rice.
Recaito: This is the ingredient used in many Latin soups, stews and black beans.
Sofrito: You need to have this base tomato based ingredient for Latin style beans and shredded chicken.
Latin Style Black Beans: If you have never tried these you are missing out and they are so easy!
Tilapia Ceviche: A citrus cured fish or shrimp appetizer with some kick.
A delicious Latin American and Caribbean favorite. Perfect for a hearty lunch or dinner. The combination of seasonings is perfect. Serve it up with arroz con gandules.
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (paleo diet: red wine ok)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp Kosher salt (paleo diet: sea salt)
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 lbs flank steak
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions medium, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 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. The bag tends to work better but if you use a dish, flip it over a few times while marinating.
Pour marinade in the bag or over it and refrigerate for about 8-10 hours.
Prior to cooking, slice steak into 1/4" to 1/2" slices on a bias against the grain of the meat.
Heat olive oil in skillet on medium heat. Add onions; toss until translucent. Do not brown the onions.
Add chicken stock and bring to a boil for about 3-4 minutes. Continue to simmer until all the liquid has cooked off and been absorbed by the onions.
- Transfer onion mixture to a bowl.
In another skillet, place the remaining 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and quickly sauté 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.