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The Onion: An Every Day Simple Cuban Steak Dinner Recipe {or Bistec Encebollado}

Admittedly, Cubans don’t have the best diet. Mucho aciete, fried this and that, lots of carbs, very little green vegetables and lots of sugar! Yes! All the fabulous stuff that make us happy. Our cuisine at its core is amazing, full of robust flavors, seasonings and outcomes. Staple dishes require technique, but not in the same way French or even Italian cuisines do. I’ve learned in my many years of cooking and watching my mother, that our food boils down to basics: beef, pork, beans, rice and lots of herbs and spices.

Simple things. Nothing too complicated. Well, with the exception of roasted pork in la caja china, which is an all day entertaining process.

Thankfully, our sofrito provides the flavor base for most dishes. I wrote a post about all its glory some time ago, to much wonderful  reception. Without sofrito, Cuban food just wouldn’t be much to really holler about. Again, at least not the basics.

I remember when my cousins came from Havana in 1998. They were super thin, malnourished and ready to grub. Their recounts of eating were memories of pan con mayonesa — bread with mayonnaise — one of my cousin’s favorite snacks… Gag me now.

But it’s their reality… much of Cuba’s reality, actually. So, having to live off of whatever is readily available, which is little, things tend to stay uncomplicated.

If it weren’t for the fact that I have access to tremendous ingredients, rich flavors and creative options, I’d say eating simple was a poor girls’ life.

In fact, I won’t even lie. Some of my favorite go-to dinners involve plain white rice, tuna (canned!), freshly sliced tomatoes, a sunny side-up egg and drizzled olive oil. AHHHHHH! Best poor girl food, ever. Oh and anything with fried sweet plantain!

There are a few others I grew up eating. Not because we were poor, rather because they were damn good. And easy: Pan con bistec y papitas, well-seasoned tuna sandwiches, black beans and rice 3x/week, etc… simple stuff.

One of the more popular dinners was and remains to be this arroz con bistec (or bistec encebollado) dinner here. Looks good, doesn’t it???

Well amigos, let me just tell you that a piece of sirloin, marinaded in onions, garlic, juice from fresh squeezed lemons and salt yields the most tender and juicy and succulent steak you’ll ever eat. No lie. Not only is the taste impressive, but as you may conclude, it begins the tenderizing process.

Tried and true. Tried AND true!

For us, this dish is the epitome of simple gone fantastic. It’s a dinner we can easily enjoy every night and never get tired of. It always comes out the same and you know what they say about consistency in food preparation and execution: It’s key to long-term success.

While it’s lackluster in its paring — the requisite plain white rice — the infused, yet basic marinade juices that come from the pan and stream onto the steak and seep under the rice, not to mention the caramelized onions and browned garlic, make this dinner fancy for the talking; and anyone that shows up unannounced.

Granted, not all steak is created equal, so it’s imperative you opt for a good cut. Mami and I love to use sirloin and sometimes top round.

Simple things can and sometimes should be graduated to more than just that. Once you have your rice and steak all set, consider adding some color to your dish. Perhaps a steamed vegetable medley  or raw cabbage salad drizzled with a homemade vinaigrette.

Top it all of with a great French wine.

That’s how we do it. All the time. And all the time, we’re completely satisfied.

 

(setting for Mami, papi and me)

Nothing fancy for restaurant or client standards, but definitely delicious food for the hungry ass soul!

Try going simple. You will be in cooking bliss!

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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Enjoy

CUBAN STEAK DINNER {ARROZ CON BISTEC or BISTEC ENCEBOLLADO}

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs. steak, petite sirloin (used here), rib eye, T-bone are all suitable options
  • 1 white onion, rounds
  • 6-8 heads of garlic, mashed
  • 2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • salt to taste
  • parsley for garnish (optional)

Method:

Remove excess fat from steaks, depending on cut being cooked. Place steaks on large plate. Season with salt. Squeeze lemon juice throughout. Rub garlic evenly on all steaks. Top with onion. Cover and and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes. In large skillet, heat oil. Using tongs, place each steak in pan, reduce heat to medium and cook on each side for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown. Add onion and garlic marinade to pan. Cover and let cook for 3-4 additional minutes, until onions are cooked but not too soft. Cook a bit longer if you desire a well-done steak.

Transfer steaks onto serving platter. Pour all of of pan juices over top of steak. Reserve some for rice if you desire. Serve with white rice and steamed or grilled vegetables.

Serves 4.

24 thoughts on “The Onion: An Every Day Simple Cuban Steak Dinner Recipe {or Bistec Encebollado}

  1. Thanks for posting this recipe. The Cuban way to make a steak is completely to die for! I can almost taste it……hmmm…. 😉

  2. Michele: you should have him make it for you! Super easy.

    Rosa: one of the most succulent pieces of steak I eat… and my mom still makes it better than I do! ha.

    Mami: Y tu siempres lo haces mejor que yo! Cuando, cuando!!!?!?! 😉 <3 u.

    Cristina: Oh no! Sorry to hear that! They're sooo good!

    Marta: Yes, and you would know! Que rico y super facil! Me encanta... tanto como el pan con bistec y cebolla.

    Monica: Thanks, Monica!

    Eva: Thanks! That was at my parent's house during Christmas... Clearly we were watching TV in the background! lol.

    Comiendo en LA: Gracias, amiga... now go eat! Be inspired.

  3. Aah, it is just 8:30 in the morning, I’m at work (though hardly working) and my stomach is grumbling and protesting this succulent post that makes me want to chow down un bistec con cebolla (That’s the way we really say it in Cubano. (Encebollado sounds more the Central American version of it). Whatever the, term, though, I can almost smell it and taste it!!! And yes, some platanitos fritos would definitely do the trick. As for adding some color? How about some ensalada de aguacate? Ah, this is killing me!! And speaking of favorite cuts for this dish, don’t forget a good Rib eye or T-bone!! Bren, me diste un hambre!!!!!

  4. The simplest of foods is often the best food! In my Mexican home we also ate a bistec encebollado and it has always been one of my favorite meals. Loving your recipe and presentation. But also your “poor girl” food, the rice and tuna, sounds amazing.

  5. There’s nothing wrong with simple food. In fact, it’s preferred sometimes. It’s quick, easy and always good! I’m a lover of all the onions you can ever put on a dish, so pile those cebollas ON!

  6. mami makes this too titi. you know how much i like steak. and so does christopher. now i’m hungry.

  7. Uchi: ricura for sure! y super facil..

    David: Dar hambre es lo que me gusta hacer! Bite! 😉

    Nancy: I just love the fact that it’s so easy and tasty. It’s not complicated and flexible… Any home cook should enjoy this often!

    Rohan: Yup!!

    DuoDishes: I love me some onions, too! Next time I’ll add some fried shallots for a bit of a crunch factor.

    5 Star Foodie: Thanks!

    Missy: Yeah, I know she does! She got it from my mami! 😉 love you.

    Sofie: Thanks for stopping by, too! It sure is a delicious meal!

    Jonathan: Yupo!

    Laz: Claro que si! 😉

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