This is a simple, no frills way to prepare beefsteak; and it comes from my cookbook Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Perseus Books). The recipe calls for traditional spices and onions and not much else. However, it’s ingredients include sofrito and aji dulce, or sweet chili peppers. Sweet chili peppers can be found in any Caribbean or Asian market. Sofrito is a base seasoning used for countless dishes in our cooking. A good recipe for sofrito can be found in my post of 11/08/10. Or you can also access the video version (11/23/15) which gives you a step by step method of making the condiment. If for some reason you don’t have the time or inclination to research the thing, a quick method is thus—in a blender or food processor, puree until smooth: 1/4 cup chopped cilantro; 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped; 2 clove garlic, crushed; 1/4 pound sweet chili peppers; and 1/4 cup parsley. That’s it. You can store any leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days or indefinitely in the freezer compartment. One last caveat: under no circumstances buy the processed, bottled sofrito you find in the supermarket. It’s chemicalized crap.
The dish is called ‘smothered steak” because, traditionally, the beef is topped, or smothered, with onions. It also calls for steaming the meat as it cooks in the pot. A good cut of beef is called for this preparation (we user sirloin or top round). We would not recommend boneless chuck. The usual accompaniment to the beef chunks is rice or boiled potatoes.
2 pounds beef sirloin or round steak, trimmed of all fat and cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded, cored and chopped
2 aji dulce (sweet chili peppers), chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Dash of sage
Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sofrito
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1. Wash meat and pat dry with paper towels. Place meat in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add bell pepper, sweet chili, garlic and sage. Mix well and sprinkle with lemon juice. Cover and marinate for 15-20 minutes.
2. Heat oil on medium flame in a large skillet or heavy frying pan and sear meat on both sides. Add marinade ingredients, water, sofrito, and onion slices. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes or until meat is tender.
Note: If desired, the onion slices can be stir-fried in a little oil and arranged over the beef when it’s done. It works either way,
Yield: 4 servings.