Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: Beef (page 3 of 6)

(plus a couple of rabbits)

BIFTEC CON GARBANZOS (Beefsteak with Chickpeas)

Like everyone else, during this time of Covid-19, we have stocked up on beans, both dried and canned. This is inclusive of chickpeas (garbanzos), which is one of the most common staples in Nuyorican cooking.  It amazes me how we never got the idea of mashing the chickpeas and creating something akin to hummus—but that’s another story. The following recipe comes from my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Running Press) and the thickener used is cornstarch. I suppose flour could be used though we’ve never tried it that way. For the steak, fillet of beef is recommended, though boneless sirloin or round steak can be substituted. The cooking time will be longer though: 15 to 20 minutes for simmering the meat or until tender.

In our family, when we served his dish, the usual accompaniment was steamed rice. This time around we had some plantains on hand and we made platanos (fried plantains). For a recipe you can go to the post of 10/16/16 (Tostones, Fried Green Plantains). The biftec recipe also calls for achiote, a flavoring that adds an orange-red color to our dishes. For simplicity’s sake, I’ve added a recipe for achiote. If you don’t have the time or inclination to use genuine achiote, then you can substitute 1 teaspoon turmeric.

(Beefsteak with Chickpeas)


1 pound fillet of beef, cut into julienne strips
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon achiote (see recipe given)
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and slice in thin rounds
1 teaspoon paprika
1 16-ounce can chickpeas
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water


1. Sprinkle the beef with garlic, salt, pepper and achiote, and mix until meat is well coated.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or frying pan and sauté the meat over high heat for approximately 3 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to medium, add the onion, paprika, chickpeas (with their liquid) and bay leaf. Stir to blend.
4. Add the water mixed with cornstarch and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (about 3minutes). Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 3 minutes more.
Yield: 4 to 5 servings.


1, Ina small skillet, preferably cast-iron, heat ½ cup olive oil or vegetable oil. When the oil is very hot add 1 tablespoon annatto seeds. They can be obtained in most supermarkets in 8-ounce jars. Turn heat to low and cook the seeds, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. If the flame is kept on high, the seeds may crack and splatter. During cooking, the oil will turn a bright orange-red color. The longer the seeds steep in the oil, the deeper the hue.
2. Remove from heat and let cool. Using a small strainer, pour into a glass jar or container. Cover and refrigerate.
Note: My relatives use a lot of achiote. Some of their recipes call for a  whole bottle of vegetable oil (32ounes) and one jar (8-ounes) in annatto seeds. Again, this is for those who use it constantly and fequently.








I’m a fan of Turkish cuisine. I first discovered it in my young manhood, and I’ve dabbled in it ever since. I especially love  the way our Turkish brethren prepare meatballs. It’s an art all its own. Like most Americans, I grew up on meatballs and spaghetti. But Turkish Kofte gave me a whole new appreciation on the subject. The following recipe I got from a friend years ago. I was entranced by the sauce that comes with it. It’s a lemon and egg sauce. A far cry, and different, from the usual marinara sauce in Italian cooking. And it gives the meatballs a whole new flavor component.

Figure it this way. With the current pandemic you’re most likely to be stuck at home, like most of us, sheltering in place. Now is the time to try something  different. Something that will spark your taste buds. I’m sure, once you’ve had this dish, you’ll never think of meatballs the same way again. It will become part of your repertoire now and in the future.

Let me add that when my friend cooked this dish, he would fry the meatballs in solid white shortening.  Honestly, the shortening gives it a better flavor. But there’s always that bugaboo about health concerns. So I use olive oil or vegetable oil. But, if you want to use Crisco, go right ahead. I can understand. It’s a personal preference. Also, I serve the recipe with rice. Or you can use couscous as an accompaniment if preferred.



1 pound lean ground beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup minced flat parsley
¼ cup fresh chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup olive oil or vegetable oil
Lemon-Egg Sauce (recipe follows)


1. Place beef in a mixing bowl along with the onion, garlic, cheese, parsley, dill, salt and pepper. Knead mixture with hands for 5 minutes.
2. Form into ovals. Roll in flour, dip into eggs. In a skillet, sauté ovals on all sides in hot oil. Serve with lemon-egg sauce.
Yield: 4 servings.



4 eggs
6 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups chicken broth or bouillon


1. In a small saucepan, beat eggs until frothy. Add lemon juice and stir.
2. Place over very low heat. Add broth slowly, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring, 10 to 15 minutes, until thickened. Do no boil.
Yield: 2 cups.







In this time of pandemic, good home-made  meals come to the fore. You know what I mean: those stick to the ribs favorites that every family has a time-honored recipe for. So, this time around, it’s my Mother’s Meat Loaf. In Spanish-Nuyorican cuisine it’s Butiffarón (pronounced “Boo-Tee-fah-ron”).

We all have a favorite meat loaf recipe. It goes with the turf. There are as many meat loaf recipe as there are cooks. They range from the renowned preparation found on the back of the old Quaker Oats box to meat loaf made with bulger wheat and peaches (I dare you to try that one). Like everyone else we have our own version in the Rivera clan. Back on the block, my mother would make it for us at every request. And it’s the best we ever tasted.

Note that among the ingredients for this dish, we have aji dulce, or sweet chili peppers. These can be found in any Asian or Latino market. These peppers are sweet, not spicy. If you use the spicy ones, you have problems—it will ruin the taste.

Added Note: As an accompaniment to this meal we added white beans. Why? We had some on hand, and we prepared it it Nuyorican style—soak 1 pound  beans  overnight in water to cover by about 2 inches. Next day, drain, and place in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven with 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook over moderate-low heat until beans are almost tender, about 1 hour. Add 3 tablespoons sofrito (recipe in post of 08/11/2010), 1 beef bouillon cube, salt to taste, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, and ¼ cup tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until beans are completely tender and the sauce has thickened somewhat.  Enjoy with the meat loaf.

(Meat Loaf)


2 pounds lean ground beef
8 whole black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium green or red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 aji dulce, seeded and chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup milk
¼ cup tomato sauce
1 cup unsalted cracker crumbs


1. Place meat in a bowl.
2. Combine peppercorns, garlic, oregano and salt in a mortar, and crush with a pestle. Add this to the beef and mix together.
3. Add the remaining ingredients in order of which they are given.
4. Mix thoroughly and pack into a greased loaf pan.
5. Bake in a preheated 350º oven for 1 hour or until well browned
Yield: 6-7 servings.










Grilling season again, in full flower. One of my favorites is grilled steaks; and since I have some maple syrup on hand, why not maple-spiced grilled steaks? In terms of the meat used, it could be boneless rib-eye, strip steak, T-bone, flank steak, skirt steak, or even filet mignon. If it’s strip steak, it should be about 12-ounces each, if it’s filet mignon, it should be 8-10 ounces each. If it’s T-bone or rib-eye, it should be at east 1½-inch thick. Whatever cut you use, figure it this way, your steak is done when it reaches 125-160 degrees F.  Using a digital meat thermometer, 125 degrees is rare, 145 is medium, and 160 is well done. Your choice.

Back in my salad days, my grilling would invariably be chuck or flat iron steak. It was a matter of economics. But, you know what? I still like cooking with those. What I discovered with these humble cuts of meat is that the longer you marinate them, the better they will be. So, for the maple-spiced steaks, spiced them up, placed them in a zip lock bag for 2-4 hours, better yet, overnight, and then grill. I am a Philistine, a barbarian, if you will, and I still prefer these cuts when they are cooked to perfection.


4 steaks of your choice
Olive oil
Maple syrup
Salt and ground black pepper to state
2 tablespoon Fresh chopped oregano or 2 teaspoons dried


  1. About 15-20 minutes before grilling, remove the steaks from the fridge and let sit, covered, at room temperature.
  2. Brush steaks on both sided with olive oil, then with maple syrup. Season liberally with the salt, pepper and oregano.
  3. Heat your grill to high. Place steaks on grill and cook until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Turn and cook for 3-5 minutes more for medium rare (135 degrees F.), 5-7 minutes for medium (140 degrees F.), and 8-10 minutes for medium-well (150 degrees), or longer for well-done.
  4. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board or platter and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to absorb into the meat, ensuring better flavor.
    Yield: 4 servings


“When I can’t write, I read. When I can’t read, I cook.”
—M.F.K. Fisher

This is a recipe that I cut out years ago from some newspaper. I still have it, yellowed paper and all. It comes from one of my heroes, M.F.K. Fisher. Long before James Beard, Julia Charles, et all, came on the scene, there was  Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, a beautiful statuesque lady who wrote 27 books, mainly on food and travel. My favorite is “How to Cook a Wolf.” No, she  does not give instructions on cooking a wolf. The book was written in 1942, in the midst of World War II when the US was fighting for its live against the Fascists. To aid in the war effort, there was a food rationing program with strict limits on the purchase food basics such as sugar, butter, flour,  coffee, and meat. The book instructs on how to survive on what you have and still cook delicious, nutritious meals. If, as President Eisenhower once said, the war was won by the jeep and spam. The war at home was won by “How to Cook a Wolf.”

This recipe is great for its quickness and convenience. And, yes, the meat loaf cooks in just a mere 15 minutes. Talk about time saving! I’ll leave the last word to Ms. Fisher herself: “This is a far cry from the dry meat loafs we once hoped would taste like a pate de champagne rather than Sunday-in-jail, and it should be eaten soon, preferably with a big salad.”


1½ pound best ground beef
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons chopped green pepper
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 generous teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper

In the morning for use that night or at least 8 hours later, combine all ingredients and mix well. Put into well-oiled baking dish in loaf form; that is, do not pack in but make a small oaf in a large space. Chill.
To serve, bake in a preheated 450º oven on lowest shelf for exactly 10 minutes.
Then place under broiler for exactly 5 minutes. Remove at once; let stand 5 minutes. Serves 4-6.



I posted a stuff peppers (pimientos rellenos) dish back on 09/18/13.  I got remarks back about the whole scenario of crushing peppercorns, garlic, oregano, salt and other ingredients in a mortar. What I was told was, Is there an easier way of doing it? I realize that not everyone is a purist when to comes to Nuyorican cooking. So, for those who want a simpler method of making pimientos rellenos, this is it.

This dish is a meal in itself. But, if desired, you can serve it with  a side of french fries, a baked potato or, as we did back in the hood, arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas— see recipe of 12/01/14).

(Stuffed Peppers)


4 green or red bell peppers (or a mix)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground chuck, pork, or lamb
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup  herb stuffing mix
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons chopped basil or scallions for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2.  Slice the top off the peppers. Take out the seeds and white veins.
  3. Drop peppers into a pot of boiling water to cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove, drain and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in  a skillet or pan, add meat and sauté until brown.
  5. Darin off excess fat, add onion, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Add herb stuffing mix and tomato sauce and cook 2 minutes more.
  6.  Stuff peppers with meat-tomato filling and place in a shallow baking dish (I refer cast-iron). Spoon the broth on top and bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle with basil or scallions and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.


BIFTEC AL SARTEN (Skillet Steak)

Back on 11/10/17 I posted a dish, Higado al Sarten (Sauteéd Liver).  It was just liver (which I like—but many people do not) sautéed in a skillet. Hence the “al sartén” appellation.  This time, it’s Biftec al Sartén or, simply, Skillet Streak. We loved this dish in our family simply because it was so easy to prepare. It contained the usual steak ingredients;  and the beef was pound with some flour,  and cooked in the skillet along with potatoes and vegetables. What could be easier?

Note that the recipe can use whatever steak meat desired. It could be chuck, or boneless round steak or, what I used this time, sirloin strip steak. If using chuck, the cooking time will be greater, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours for the meat to cook. If using boneless round or strip steak, the time will be less, about 1 hour or so.

The dish does not really need an accompaniment. The veggies and potatoes should be enough for the dish to stand on its own. In fact, in terms of vegetables, you can use whatever you like. If desired, you can substitute the carrot for green beans or peas, frozen or fresh. If using fresh vegetables, apply cooking time 10-15 minutes. For frozen veggies, refer to package directions. This is the archetypical winter dish and, served with a hearty red wine, you have yourself a winner.

(Skillet Steak)


1 pound sirloin strip steak, or boneless beef round steak
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oi
1 large onion, sliced into thin rings
1 cup beef bouillon
1/4 cup catsup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
4 large potatoes, washed, scrubbed and slice into thin rounds
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced


  1. Coat steak pieces with flour; then pound into beef.
  2.  Heat oil in a large skillet, and brown beef. Push beef to one side of pan, and stir-fry onion until tender.
  3.  Add beef bouillon, catsup, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, salt, and marjoram. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until beef is tender. About 1 hour
  4.  30 minutes before beef is done, add carrots and potatoes to skillet. Cover and simmer  until vegetables are tender.
    Yield: 4 servings.









I don’t eat that much red meat. I’m more into seafood, poultry and veggies. But I do love a good steak once in a while, and that’s why I love this recipe. Also, It was very common in our family to marinate meat in order to make it more flavorful. So we would marinate chuck steak or a roast or whatever. It’s a Caribbean thing, and we would inevitably make an adobo marinade.

Our marinade would consist of peppercorns, garlic, oregano, olive oil and salt, all mashed in a mortar. Then we would rub the meat with it, let it sit for a while, and, finally, cook it via pan frying, baking or broiling. And, naturally serve it with yellow rice or tostones (green friend plantains).  But you can serve this entrée over any staple you like, including pasta, as we did this time around.

One fine day, our beloved Uncle Phillip informed us that, in terms of an adobo marinade,  they did the same thing in Cuba. Except their marinade included ginger and lime juice. Okay, we said, lets it try. And the results were fabulous. In Puerto Rican cuisine we use fresh ginger, but seldom in a marinade. This was a revelation. Whenever Uncle Phillip came back from a trip overseas (he was a merchant seaman), this was the go-to dish.

Be aware that, depending on circumstance, boneless round or chuck, is the preferred meat for this recipe. But better cuts of meat can also be used. We did this recipe with sirlion tip steak, and it came out great. Use whatever is available or convenient.

(Steak with Adobo)


2 pounds boneless round or chuck , cut 2-inch thick (I used sirloin tip steak)
3 cloves garlic
1 inch fresh ginger root (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
Juice of 2-3 limes (about 1/4 cup)


1. Peel and coarsely chop the garlic and ginger. Place in a mortar and pestle with the salt and mash to a smooth paste. Mix in the cumin, pepper, and lime juice.
2. Pierce meat all over with a fork. Rub the marinade over all the steak. Place in a covered dish or zip-lock bag, and marinate in the fridge for 4-6 hours or, better yet, overnight.
3. Place in an oven proof dish or pan and broil, on high, 5-7 minutes to a side (rare).  For medium or well done, make it 12-15 minutes. Cut in slices across the grain, and serve.
Yield: 4 or more servings.










Steak With Asian Sauce

This recipe is a variation on a common concept: steak with sauce. The great American steak has always been paired with Worcestershire, A1 sauce, barbecue sauce, horseradish, Tabasco sauce, and even Ketchup. So why not an Asian sauce? We have Asian sauces with almost everything: noodles, chicken, rice, veggies. So, why not a steak?

An Asian steak sauce is so easy to make. Go to your cupboard or fridge, and you’ll find almost anything you need. The Asian steak sauce I proffer is only a suggestion. You can experiment and create your own, you can make a hoisin sauce or a 5-spice sauce, or a kimchi sauce. Your imagination is limitless.

For this recipe you can use your favorite cut of meat: strip steak, flank steak, rid eye, tenderloin, etc. I used sirloin ( I had some extra cash available, otherwise it would have been chuck steak). Let me state that since this is an Asian sauce, the usual accompaniment  is rice. But you can also use pasta or, as I did with this one, mashed potatoes (since I had some potatoes on hand).


1 pound sirloin steak
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup beef broth
1 teaspoons mustard (preferably Dijon)

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan of skillet (I prefer cast-iron) over medium heat. Add steak and cook 7 to 8 minutes on each side, or until desired degree of doneness. Let the steak rest on a carving board for 5 minutes. Then cut across on the diagonal into thin strips.
  2.  Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add broth and mustard and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3.  To serve, spread steal slices on a serving plate and spoon sauce over the meat.
    Yield: 4 servings.




Steak Salad

Summertime is salad time. But one gets tired of the usual greens topped with dressing. So, how ’bout a steal salad? That’s right: a Steak Salad. If you like steak and who doesn’t? (Unless your a vegan). And if you like salads, this is tailor-made.

Now, for a steak salad you can use whatever steak meat you like, even chuck steak—which is perfect for this entrée, since the meat is cut thin and doesn’t need prolonged cooking. I used top round; but want to go with something fancier, no problem. The carnivores in your family will love this dish, even if it is a “salad.”


1 large potato, scrubbed but not peeled, cut into  1/2 to 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (can substitute mozzarella, if desired)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 pounds steak,  about 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 tablespoon dried
1 package spinach, rinsed and dried
2 large tomatoes, cut into small chunks
2 medium zucchinis. sliced into rounds, then each round sliced in half

  1. Place potatoes in a medium pan with water to cover, and boil until tender (5-6 minutes, depending on thickness of potato chunks).
  2.  Meanwhile, while potatoes are cooking, whisk together in a small bowl the vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Add the olive oil slowly in a stream, whisking it in. Whisk in the sour cream and stir in the blue cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3.  Season steak on both sides with salt, pepper, and oregano. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add steak and cook for 5 minutes on each side for medium rare (longer for medium or well-done). Transfer the steak to a platter and let it rest for about 8 minutes. Add any juice from the steak skillet to the blue cheese dressing.  Slice the steak very thinly at an angle across the grain.
  4.  In a a large salad bowl, combine the spinach with the tomatoes and zucchini. Add the salad dressing and toss the salad. Top with the steak slices.
    Yield: 4 to 6 servings.





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