This Puerto Rican bistec encebollado is a comforting main dish made with stewed steak & onions marinated in a garlicky, spice forward sauce. It's typically made with cube steak and served over white rice with fried brown plantains.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
If you're a fan of traditional Puerto Rican flavors, you're going to love bistec encebollado.
The tenderized cube steak is marinated with a blend of garlic, adobo, sazon, vinegar, and oil, then stewed with onions and water. The result is a super flavorful, super tender steak with a luscious broth and perfectly cooked onions that are perfect for serving over a bowl of white rice.
It's one of those recipes that comes together with simple ingredients and minimal effort.
Just make sure you have the time to let the steak marinate for a few hours; bonus points if you throw the marinade together the night before and let those flavors really soak in.
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Here's your grocery list:
- olive oil
- white vinegar
- garlic, grated or mashed with a pilon
- adobo seasoning (can also be store bought)
- sazon seasoning (can also be store bought)
- cube steak (or your favorite cut of steak)
- yellow onions, peeled & sliced into rings
- salt & pepper to taste
- optional: cilantro to garnish
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Stewed Steak & Onions
Let's dive right in:
Tip: Check the steak & onions every 5-10 minutes while stewing to make sure nothing is sticking, adding a splash of water if things get too dry.
What to Eat it With
Bistec encebollado is typically served over a bed of white rice with some kind of plantains (usually maduros).
Here are some other ideas for pairings:
- Habichuelas Guisadas (Puerto Rican Stewed Beans)
- Crispy Puerto Rican-Style Tostones
- Traditional Puerto Rican Mofongo (25 Minutes!)
- Puerto Rican Style Stewed Black Beans (Habichuelas Negras)
- 10 Minute Ensalada Verde
- Puerto Rican Rice & Beans with Sofrito (Arroz con Gandules)
- 10 Minute Pique (Puerto Rican Hot Sauce)
- 15 Minute Plantain Fries
My mom and I are totally addicted to pique (pictured above), and I find that the vinegar and oregano pairs perfectly with the flavors in the marinade of the steak & onions.
Picking Your Steak
Cube steak is a cut of steak that is pounded & tenderized before you buy it.
If you can't find it or want an alternative, you can certainly buy a few pounds of top sirloin or top round steak and pound it out with a mallet at home. That said, cube steak is the traditional cut of meat to use in this dish.
It's the perfect cut of meat for this recipe because the pounded steak allows it to soak up the marinade and delivers in a super tender end result.
Feel free to use whatever kind of beef steak that's available to you if you can't find it, and know that you can also slice your steak into strips to cook quicker!
Here are some additions you can use to explore different versions of bistec encebollado I've seen in Puerto Rico:
- Tomato Puree - Some recipes call for either a spoonful of tomato paste or a half cup or so of tomato puree. This is usually incorporated just before the onions & water, and adds an acidity & other layer of flavor to the dish.
- Sofrito - I'm honestly surprised that I didn't use sofrito in my recipe, but I felt that the spices & garlic could speak for themselves in the marinade. Feel free to add a few tablespoons of sofrito either to your marinade or to the caldero with the onions as desired.
- Bay leaves - If you're a bay leaf lover, go ahead and toss in a couple with the water, to add another layer of flavor. Make sure to remove before serving.
You can also garnish with minced cilantro if desired.
If you want to invest in a really wonderful tool, a pilon (aka a mortar & pestle) does a great job at processing the garlic in this recipe.
You will also need a pot with a fitted lid or a caldero to stew the steak & onions.
More Meat Forward Recipes
We rarely have leftovers of this dish when we make it, because it's a family favorite! If you do have any, be sure to store them in an air tight container in the fridge. It should keep for up to 3 days.