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I'm a food snob. I will wholeheartedly admit it. More than that, I'm a steak snob. I like to blame it on my Chicago upbringing, but I call them like I see them. So, imagine my delight when I tasted the amazing Bistec Encebollado at Pikayo restaurant on la Playa del Condado in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The week that I spent there was the gastronomical vacation of a lifetime, but Pikayo took the cake. The service, the location, you name it... spot on.
Cut to my first bite of Wilo Benet's -- chef of Pikayo -- Bistec Encebollado.
I had been eyeing it all week at restaurants around San Juan, so for my last night it was the only dish to try. Perfectly marinated to tenderness, expertly cooked, and smothered in sauteed onions and a deliciously flavored sauce. I was in heaven. This Puerto Rican specialty for steak and onions is easy to prepare, although you'd never know it by it's elegance. I substituted skirt steak for the tenderloin used at Pikayo, since there isn't a menu in San Juan that doesn't have a churrasco on it. Not to worry... the vinegar in the marinade keeps the food tender after you pound it out. From the original recipe, I reduced the butter and added extra chicken stock to the sauce, and changed up the fats for the sauteed onions, but the flavor was just as rich. See what you think!
2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of fat
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Dash dried oregano leaves
3 tablespoons adobo seasoning (equal parts garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin, and salt) divided
2 large white onions, sliced into thin rings
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1½ cups chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1. Make the adobo by mixing together the garlic and onion powders, cumin and salt.
2. Trim the meat and pound until it's about a ¼-inch thick. Cut into medallions and place in a large freezer bag. To the bag, add 2 tablespoons adobo seasoning, a few glugs of olive oil, 3 tablespoons vinegar, garlic and oregano. Close the bag and mix to coat the meat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1-12 hours (on the shorter side if you use a more tender cut of meat).
3. Slice the onions into thin rings on a mandolin or with an extremely sharp knife. In a saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until golden brown. Add chicken stock, vinegar and the remaining adobo.
4. Meanwhile, heat another saute pan and add olive oil to coat bottom. When pan is hot, add 2-3 steak medallions, not crowding the pan, and cook on each side for about 2 minutes. Remove and keep warm as you repeat with additional medallions.
5. Serve steak medallions topped with sauteed onions and a few tablespoons of sauce and serve immediately.
Recipe modified from Wilo Benet of Pikayo, Condado, San Juan Puerto Rico
Other recipes by Carolyn:
Camarones a la Criolla (Shrimp Creole Style)
Pollo en Fricasé
Coctel de Camarones (Shrimp Cocktail)
Tacos de Carnitas
Sopa de Lentejas (Lentil Soup)
Pan de Bono
Huachinango a la Veracruzana (Snapper Veracruz)
Mil Colones Stew
Mofongo Relleno de Camarones
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