Café-style steak

Café-style steak

Bife à café

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Bife à café, a real Lisbon favourite, takes its name from Café Marrare in the Chiado area, a coffee club frequented by the city’s poets and intellectuals, and also famous for its steak. Thanks to the name, some people imagine that the sauce contains coffee, but traditionally it’s more of a creamy pepper sauce. Using good-quality meat will add hugely to this dish; I like a nice dry-aged sirloin steak, which is more affordable than fillet. Finish it off with a slice of cured ham or a fried egg on top, as the Portuguese do. Eat it with fried potatoes and some piri piri oil or tabasco sauce, if you like.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 x 180g sirloin steaks
2 tablespoons olive oil
a knob butter
1 small banana shallot, finely diced
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon madeira
1 teaspoon portuguese-style mustard
60ml single cream
worcestershire sauce, to taste
2 slices iberico ham
sea salt flakes
cracked black pepper

Method

  1. Take the steaks out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before cooking and season them well on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the steaks and cook for 2–3 minutes on each side for medium rare (the exact cooking time will depend on the thickness of the steaks). Add the butter and baste the steaks with it. Remove the steaks and leave to rest on a warm plate.
  2. Add the shallot to the cooking juices in the pan and cook over a low heat until soft, then increase the heat to caramelise it. Pour in the brandy and Madeira and stir quickly to incorporate all the cooking juices and sediment. Add the mustard and cream and cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Taste for seasoning and add some more salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce, if you like. If the sauce is a little thick or starting to separate, add a dash of warm water. Put a slice of ham on each steak, pour the sauce on top and eat straight away.
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