Portuguese Recipes Recipes from Portugal Portuguese Cuisine

Bife à Portuguêsa

Portuguese steak with smoked ham in a red wine and lemon juice sauce. Best served warm with a portion of Portuguese fried potatoes arranged around the edges of the serving dishes.


• 4 large peeled garlic cloves, 2 crushed with a cleaver knife and 2 cut lengthways into halves
• 2 ½ tsp. red-wine vinegar
• 1 tsp. salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 4 Fillet steaks of beef, slice about ¾ inch thick
• 1 ½ tbs. olive oil
• 1 oz. butter
•  1 large bay leaf, crumbled
• 8 thin slices presunto ham or prosciutto or other lean smoked ham
• 3 tbs. dry red wine
• 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
• 2 tsp. finely chopped parsley
• 1 lemon cut into 8 wedges


1. Preheat the oven to 250°F.

2. Mash the crushed garlic, vinegar, salt and a few grindings of black pepper to a smooth paste with a pestle and mortar or in a bowl with the back of a spoon.

3. Rub the paste into the steaks, using your fingers and pressing it firmly into both sides of the meat.

4. Melt the butter in the olive oil over moderate heat in a large, heavy frying pan. When the foam has almost subsided, add the garlic halves and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Then remove and discard the garlic and bay leaf.

5. Add the steaks and cook for 2-3 minutes in each side, turning them and regulating the heat so that they brown quickly and evenly. The steaks should be well browned, but still pink inside.

6. Transfer the steaks to individual baking dishes or fairly deep plates to keep them warm in the oven.

7. Add the slices of ham to the fat remaining in the pan and cook over high heat, turning them frequently, for 1 or 2 minutes.

8. Place 2 slices of ham on each steak.

9. Pour all but a thin film of fat from the pan, add the wine and lemon juice and bring to the boil over a high heat, meanwhile scraping in any brown particles stuck to the bottom and sides of the pan.

10. Pour the sauce over the steaks, sprinkle them with parsley and garnish each serving with lemon wedges and serve at once.
(serves 4)

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