Bistec encebollado is a traditional Puerto Rican recipe featuring cube steak marinated in a flavor-packed combo of onions, sofrito and vinegar, before being stewed in a savory tomato based sauce. It’s pure Puerto Rican comfort food.
Bistec encebollado is the one recipe that I insist my mom makes whenever I’m visiting home. She’s in New Jersey, and I’m in Florida, so when I head up North to see her and the rest of the family, this dish is a must. It always reminds me of home, and definitely brings me back to my childhood with each bite. My sister and I would dip white bread into the delicious guiso (stew), it was our favorite part of this dish, so much so, that we’d end up eating a half a loaf of bread in one sitting!
What’s the best cut of beef to use for Bistec Encebollado?
Some people like using whole beef fillets, but I like cutting it into strips, because that’s how my mom makes it. The best cut of beef to use for this recipe is cube steak. Cube steak or cubed steak is a cut of beef, usually top round or top sirloin, tenderized and flattened by pounding with a meat tenderizer, or by using an electric tenderizer. The name refers to the shape of the indentations left by that process. This is the same kind of steak that’s used for chicken fried steak. Cube steak is also typically very economical, so it’s a great way to serve a delicious family dinner on a budget!
How Do You Make Bistec Encebollado?
Bistec encebollado translated to steak and onions, so those are the main components of this dish. Other key ingredients are sofrito, adobo and sazon, which are Puerto Rican staples in the kitchen. One element that gives this recipe its distinct flavor is vinegar. Once the cube steak is sliced into strips, I simply marinate it with olive oil, vinegar and the spices. After the beef marinates for a few hours, I add a bit of oil and sofrito to a Dutch oven, or caldero. Next comes the marinated beef, sliced onion, tomato sauce, water and powdered chicken bouillon. After all the ingredients are in the pot, I simply bring the whole mixture to a boil, then lower and simmer for 45 minutes, until the beef is tender and the onions practically melt into the sauce. You’ll end up with a delicious beef stew that gets even better after sitting in the fridge overnight! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
What Should I Serve with Bistec Encebollado?
The delicious gravy from the bistec needs to be sopped up with rice, so that’s definitely a must! You can serve it with white rice, yellow rice or Arroz Con Gandules, which is one of the national dishes of the island! I would also serve some crusty bread on the side, so you can dip into the sauce, like my sister and I do! To round out the dish, I love serving fried sweet plantains or tostones (fried green plantains). Some sliced avocado, or a simple watercress salad would be a great addition as well.
Bistec Encebollado (Puerto Rican Steak and Onions)
Bistec encebollado is a traditional Puerto Rican recipe featuring cube steak marinated in a flavor-packed combo of onions, sofrito and vinegar, before being stewed in a savory tomato based sauce. It's pure Puerto Rican comfort food.
- 3 lbs cube steak, cut into strips
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 tsp Sazon seasoning (with culantro y achiote) 1 packet
- 1 tsp Adobo all purpose seasoning
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 3 tbsp vinegar whatever type you have is fine
- 1/4 cup sofrito
- 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and sliced into rings
- 8 oz can of tomato sauce
- 1½ cups water
- 1 tsp powdered chicken bouillon or 1 cube
Cut the cube steaks into strips and place them into a bowl or ziplock bag. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil, the vinegar, sazon, adobo and oregano. Toss to coat, and marinate for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.
Heat a Dutch oven or caldero over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil, the sofrito, and the marinated beef. Stir for 3-4 minutes to begin browning the meat.
Add the onions, tomato sauce, water and chicken bouillon. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce the bistec encebollado to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until the beef is tender.
Serve with white rice and fried plantains.