Pan con Bistec or Steak Sandwich is a Cuban recipe that is made on a loaf of Cuban bread filled with steak, onions, potato fries, and topped with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomatoes. If you can’t find Cuban bread a loaf of Italian or even a baguette will make a suitable substitution for this delicious steak sandwich.
Regarding the choice of beef, a flank steak, top round steak, or rib-eye steak can be used for the Pan con Bistec but is usually cut into thin slices. In some recipes, sour orange juice or lime juice are also used as a marinade for the steak. Whichever you choose, like always, quality is important.
Pan con Bistec ~ Steak Sandwich
For the Steak
For the Onions
- 1 small Yellow Onion thinly sliced
For the Sandwich
- 2 loaves Cuban Bread
- 4 oz Potato Sticks
- 2 tbsp Mayonnaise optional
- 2 cups Lettuce chopped or shredded – optional
- 2 Tomatoes sliced – optional
- Butter optional
Prep the Steaks
- Combine the salt, garlic powder, oregano, cumin and black pepper in a small bowl. Season the steaks on both sides with the seasoning mix.
- Heat 2 tbsp. of oil in a large (very large) skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, almost smoking, add as many steaks that will fit in the skillet without overcrowding.
- Cook the steaks about 2-3 minutes per side, until they’re golden brown and cooked through. Take the skillet off the heat, remove the steaks to a plate or pan and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining steaks. Note: It may be necessary to add another tablespoon of oil to cook the second batch of steaks.
Prep the Onions
- Do not wash the skillet, return it to medium-low heat and add the sliced onions. Cook the onions, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes until they start to soften, stirring frequently. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
Build the Sandwich
- Cut the loaves of bread to make 4 large pieces. Then open each piece by slicing it in half lengthwise.
- Add one steak and a quarter of the onions to the bottom half of the bread piece. Then add the mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato slices, if using. Add a generous amount of potato sticks and cover with the top piece.
- Gently, press the pan con bistec for a few minutes until the bread is toasty and starting to flatten out. If desired, brush a little bit of butter on the bread top prior to pressing to get a pretty sheen.
Regional variations of the Pan con Bistec Steak Sandwich
Bistec de Palomilla in Cuba, Bistec Ranchero in Mexico, Bistec a Caballo (topped with hogao and a fried egg) in Colombia, and Bistec a lo Pobre (served with fried plantain, fried eggs, fries, and rice) in Peru.
The Filipino version is called Bistek Tagalog, a dish made of strips of salted and peppered sirloin beef, usually flattened with a meat tenderizing tool, slowly cooked in soy sauce, calamansi juice, garlic, and onions, a specialty of the Tagalog region. The onions are usually cut into rings and are added raw when the dish is either already cooked, or almost cooked for the onions to soften but maintain their crunchiness.
Bistek Tagalog is known in the Spanish-speaking world as Bistec Encebollado or Bistec Tagalo. It is usually anglicized in Philippine English as “beefsteak”.
Another variation of Bistek in the Philippines is Bistek na Baboy (“Pork Bistek”) or “Porksteak”, in which pork—pork chops or pork belly slices—is used instead of beef.
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