A reader of ours, Yvonne Ortiz, recently sent me an email, “What happened to the Rican recipes???” Good question. She has a point. As of late I haven’t posted that many “‘rican” recipes.” Apart from my novels, I wrote one of the first Puerto Rican cookbooks of the modern era, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America. That immediately got me noticed as an “authority” on criollo cooking. I don’t know about the “authority” part, I’m just a foodie who likes to cook and eat good food. I’m not a gourmet, I’m more of a gourmand, one who takes hearty pleasure in eating. And that encompasses all cuisines, be it Puerto Rican or not. I grew up on criollo cooking. But, in my young manhood, living in vibrant New York City, I came across all cultures and cuisine, everything from Jewish (either Sephardim or Azkenazy) to Latin American, Asian, Polynesian, African, you name it. And it increased my palate and appreciation. My blog is not just simply confined to “‘rican” cooking. It explores cooking worldwide (with a non-cooking comment now and then to liven things up). Like the martial arts, all cuisines are equally good. It just depends on the practitioner of that cuisine to make it great.
In our family, beloved Uncle Phillip had a saying: “I want enough money to feed my belly and my friends’ bellies.” It became the motto of our family. It made no difference what the cooking was, as long as it was good and wholesome. But, Yvonne, dearest, just to keep the fans happy, here’s a ‘rican recipe. Enjoy it with family and friends. Basically, it’s a good steak cooked with rosemary, garlic, and lemon. We call it Biftec con Romero y Límon.
4 good quality steaks, T-bone, strip loin steaks, or club steaks, about 1 ½-inches thick
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
8 whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
Juice of half a lemon
- Rinse steaks under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
Put garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and rosemary leaves in a mortar. Pound with a pestle until crushed. Add one tablespoon olive oil, and mix thoroughly.
- Rub seasonings into the steak.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or frying pan (I prefer cast-iron). Add steaks and cook steaks 5-6 minutes per side (depending upon thickness, for medium, slightly less for rare, and more for medium-well).
- Transfer meat to a large platter, sprinkle with lemon juice, and let rest 10 minutes before serving. In the Rivera family we preferred serving the steak whole per person. If desired, you can carve in slices, if that is your preference.
Yield: 4 servings.