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The trick to Cuban-fried or Cuban breaded steak (bistec empanizado) is a cut of meat that is not too thin or thick. Angus beef round steaks were used in this recipe. Palomilla steaks are usually preferred, but anything along those lines would work.
Breading is totally different too. Galleta molida or cracker meal, is a trick used over and over again when it comes to breading Cuban-style. It’s a mix of flour, yeast, spices and other good stuff that can be bought in most large supermarkets. It is also available at most Cuban bakeries. You’ll often read that a substitute for cracker meal is just grinding saltines in a food processor. Absolutely no right-minded Latin cook would do that, I think. You will just never get the same results. If you cannot find cracker meal, just go ahead and dredge the steaks in flour, bathe in egg and then combine with regular, plain breadcrumbs. Another alternative, though the taste will not be quite the same, is trying Matzo meal.
Palomilla steaks are quite big, one might be enough for two people. Depending on size, however, consider one steak per person. The Angus beef steaks I found were pretty small, so one was just not enough for an individual. Ask your eaters just how hungry they are before heading to the frying pan. Quick, colorful harvest vegetable mash is a nice side alternative to the rice and beans routine.
Cuban Fried Steak
Step 1. Make sure to remove any excess fat from your steaks. Season with kosher salt, ground black pepper and complete seasoning on both sides. Don’t over-season as you will also season the breading a bit, too.
Step 2. In a large bowl whisk two eggs. Set aside. Add cracker meal or breadcrumbs to a large plate. If using breadcrumbs and not cracker meal, remember to dredge steaks in flour before adding them to the whisked eggs. Make sure to prepare a plate with some flour at this point if doing that. When using cracker meal no flour is needed. Season cracker meal or breadcrumbs with a little salt and pepper and add chopped parsley if using. The parsley really doesn’t add taste, it just adds a bit of color to the steaks.
Step 3. Add oil to frying pan over medium heat. Olive oil heats up very quickly so be cautious. If oil gets too hot, remove pan from heat and allow to cool down a bit before continuing to fry.
Step 4. Add steak to whisked eggs. Let any excess egg fall back onto the plate. Transfer to plate with cracker meal or breadcrumbs and cover every ounce of steak with mixture. Take to the frying pan from this point.
Step 5. Make sure oil is hot enough. A good trick is testing with a wooden spoon. Place the spoon in oil and if bubbles occur around it the oil is ready. Add steak to oil and fry about 3 minutes per side. Keep an eye on steaks as they brown. Never put the heat on high. Keep it at medium. If you think they’re ready to turn before 3 minutes, do so, and bring the heat down a little. Repeat process with amount of steaks desired. If frying a lot of steaks and oil gets too dark, remove oil from pan, rinse pan with some water, hand dry and add fresh oil again. Serve with vegetable mash and dinner is ready.
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