Cuban Breaded Steak (Bistec Empanizado)


Savor the Flavor: How to Make Irresistible Breaded Cuban Steak at Home

When I think of Cuban breaded steak or Bistec Empanizado, my mouth waters instantaneously. What is bistec empanizado or Cuban breaded steak? Well let me tell you. The steak is bursting with flavor from a citrus and garlic marinade and boasting a crispy golden crust. Think the Cuban version of chicken fried steak. In just a few simple steps, you can recreate the authentic taste of this Cuban dish right in your own kitchen.

Using the finest ingredients and a traditional Cuban marinade, this recipe guarantees tender and juicy steak encased in a delectable breaded coating. The combination of savory seasonings and a satisfying crunch will have your taste buds dancing with delight. Whether you’re a culinary novice or an experienced home cook, this recipe is sure to impress.

What is Breaded Cuban Steak?

Cuban cuisine is known for its bold flavors and unique combinations, and breaded Cuban steak is no exception. This classic dish starts with a thinly sliced steak, typically palomilla (thinly sliced top sirloin), which is then marinated in a blend of traditional Cuban spices. The steak is then coated in breadcrumbs, creating a crispy and flavorful crust when cooked.

The key to achieving the perfect breaded Cuban steak lies in the marinade. The marinade is typically made with simple ingredients such as garlic, naranja agria and lime juice, which infuse the steak with a bright and tangy flavor. The breadcrumbs not only add a delightful crunch but also help to seal in the moisture of the steak, ensuring a juicy and succulent result.

Twenty plus years ago I learned from my Cuban mother in law if a loaf of Cuban or French bread was leftover from dinner, never throw it away! It is kept until it is dried out and then crushed or blended up for breadcrumbs. “Why?”, I asked. The answer was so there is always fresh breadcrumbs to make Cuban breaded steak.

Don’t want the extra carbs from a breaded steak? Then check out bistec encebollado, steak with onions.

If there happens to be any leftover steaks then don’t ever throw them away either. Fry them in the morning with a couple of fried eggs and start your morning with the best steak and eggs you’ve ever had!!

Ingredients for breaded Cuban steak

To make breaded Cuban steak, you will need the following ingredients:

– 1 ½ pounds of palomilla (thinly sliced top sirloin)

– 10 cloves of garlic, minced

– Juice of 1 lime

– 1 cup of naranja agria

– Salt to taste

– 6 eggs, whisked

– 3 cups of breadcrumbs

– ¼ cup of vegetable oil, for frying

Step-By-Step Instructions For Making Breaded Cuban Steak

1. Start by preparing the marinade for the steak. In a bowl, combine the minced garlic, lime juice, and naranja agria. Mix well to ensure that the ingredients are evenly distributed.

2. Salt both sides of the steak and add the steak to the marinade. Make sure that the steak is well-coated on all sides. Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat.

3. Once the steak has marinated, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. This will ensure even cooking.

4. Preheat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. Allow the oil to heat up until it shimmers.

5. While the oil is heating, remove the steak from the marinade and shake off any excess. Dredge the steak in the eggs and then the breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to ensure that the breadcrumbs adhere to the meat. Repeat so the steak has been coated twice in the breadcrumbs.

6. Carefully place the breaded steak in the hot oil and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until the crust is golden brown and crispy. Avoid overcrowding the pan, as this can cause the steak to steam rather than fry.

7. Once the steak is cooked to your desired level of doneness, remove it from the pan and place it on a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.

8. Allow the steak to rest for a few minutes before serving. This will ensure that the meat remains tender and juicy.

9. Serve the breaded Cuban steak hot, alongside traditional Cuban sides such as black beans, rice, and fried plantains. Garnish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro for an extra burst of flavor.

Tips for Achieving a Crispy and Flavorful Crust

To achieve a crispy and flavorful crust on your breaded Cuban steak, keep the following tips in mind:

1. Use fresh breadcrumbs: Fresh breadcrumbs will provide a better texture and crumb than store-bought ones. Simply blitz a few slices of bread in a food processor until you have coarse crumbs.

2. Press firmly: When coating the steak with breadcrumbs, press firmly to ensure that they adhere well. This will help create a nice, even crust.

3. Maintain the oil temperature: Make sure the oil is hot enough before adding the breaded steak. If the oil is not hot enough, the steak will absorb more oil and become greasy. Use a cooking thermometer to monitor the temperature.

4. Avoid overcrowding the pan: Cook the steak in batches if necessary, to avoid overcrowding the pan. Overcrowding can cause the temperature of the oil to drop, resulting in a less crispy crust.

Serving Suggestions for Breaded Cuban Steak

Breaded Cuban steak is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in various ways. Here are a few serving suggestions to inspire you:

– Serve the steak as the main course, accompanied by traditional Cuban sides such as black beans, rice, and fried plantains.

– Slice the steak and use it to make a delicious Cuban sandwich. Layer it on a crusty roll with mustard, pickles, and Swiss cheese, and press it in a hot pan until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted.

– Serve the breaded Cuban steak on a bed of mixed greens for a lighter option. Top it with a zesty vinaigrette made with lime juice, olive oil, and garlic.

Frequently asked questions about breaded Cuban steak

Q: Can I marinate the steak overnight?

A: Yes, marinating the steak overnight will allow the flavors to develop even more. Just make sure to refrigerate it properly.

Q: Can I bake the breaded Cuban steak instead of frying it?

A: Although traditionally fried, you can bake the breaded Cuban steak in the oven at 400°F (200°C) for about 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the steak is cooked to your liking.

Q: Can I use chicken instead of steak?

A: Absolutely! Chicken can be a great alternative if you prefer a lighter option. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly, as chicken requires longer cooking than steak.

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Cuban Breaded Steak (Bistec Empanizado)

Difficulty: Easy Prep Time 120 mins Cook Time 10 mins Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 4

Cuban Breaded Steak (Bistec Empanizado) Ingredients

Cuban Breaded Steak (Bistec Empanizado) Instructions

  1. If using traditional palomilla steaks they will already be cut and ready to be pounded for tenderizing. If using top sirloin steak cut 1/4” thick.

  2. Pound steaks in between 2 pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. I use a rolling pin for even distribution but of course a mallet can be used too. Salt both sides of meat and transfer to a bowl for marinating.
  3. Add the juice of 1 lime, 1 cup of naranja agria, and  the minced, grated or smashed garlic. Cover and let marinate for at least 1 hour.

  4. Set up a station with a dish for the 6 beaten eggs, a dish for the 3 cups of breadcrumbs and a plate for the finished steak. Dredge each steak in the eggs and then the breadcrumbs and transfer to plate. When done repeat so each steak has been breaded twice.
  5. Add oil to a frying pan to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat oil on medium to medium high heat. Test oil to see if hot enough for frying by dropping in a little piece of crumb from steak. If it starts to sizzle it’s ready. Fry each steak for about 4-5 minutes a side until golden brown on each side. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels. 

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