Hispanic Heritage Month is going strong and today I'm sharing one of MY personal favorite recipes because today is all about Cuban food and, well, I'm Cuban. 

When I was growing up, nothing said abuelita's cooking like bistec de palomilla (a thinly pounded steak cooked with onions), frijoles negros (black beans) with white rice and platanos maduros fritos (fried sweet plantains). That's the most traditional I can think of, so I'm sharing my recipe with you in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month today. Enjoy!


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Cuban Bistec de Palomilla with White Rice & Black Beans

1lb bag of black beans (can also be made with red beans)
3 cups cooked white rice (I use a rice cooker)
1/2 large white onion, chopped
1/2 large white onion, cut into rings
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped (can also be made with red bell pepper)
6 garlic cloves, minced or chopped
1 can tomato sauce
1 tbsp sugar
beef loin top sirloin steak (or another thin steak)
1 store-bought box of fried sweet plantains
salt & pepper to taste 

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1. First, you need to start your black beans. They take quite a while so I always use a pressure cooker. Open the bag of dried black and pour into the cooker. Add water. Inside of the pressure cooker, there are 2 markers for where you want your water to stop. I always pour until the top one because I like my black beans with more liquid. Use less water if you prefer them thicker. Seal the pressure cooker and turn your stove on "high". Once the pressure seal activates, leave your beans to cook for 30 minutes.

2. As your beans are cooking, you will need to prepare the "sofrito." This is the onion, bell pepper, and garlic mixture that's added to the beans later on. It's very important in Cuban cooking and must be timed just right. First, sautee your chopped onions for a few minutes. I tend to like them closer to golden. Then, add in your chopped bell pepper and sautee together. Once your pepper is done, add in 1/2 of your minced garlic (about 3 cloves). Sautee for another minute or two, and turn off. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, prepare your steak to marinate for a little while. I would do this either right before you start the black beans or right after. Use your onion rings, leftover garlic and some lime juice to marinate for roughly 30 minutes (this can also be done overnight).

4. When your beans are done (detailed below), cook the steak. Take the marinated steak out of the fridge and scrape off the onions and garlic, set aside. In a small pan, pour oil and fry the steak for about 3-5 minutes on each side or until done. Since the steak is very thin, it will cook quickly. I recommend waiting to cook it until you are almost ready to serve. Season as desired.

5. Once the steak is done, throw the onion rings and garlic lefovers into the pan and fry them until golden. They make a great topping.

6. To finish your black beans, turn off the pressure cooker after 30 minutes and let it cool until the pressure settles. Some people run it under cold water to deactivate it faster. Once it's off, take off the lid and use a spoon to mash the black beans a little bit. Put the opened pot back on the stove, turn the heat on medium, and add in the can of tomato sauce and your sofrito. Mix well. Season to taste. At the very last minute, add in the sugar. It's a Cuban secret!

7. In between cooking the sofrito and the steak, you should have made your fried sweet plantains. Unfortunately, I could not find good ripe plantains so I decided to buy a box instead. This is fine, but I'll definitely have to do fresh ones next time. And now you're ready to eat! Serve a plate with white rice, black beans on top, steak with onions and sweet plantains on the side. This is the classic Cuban dish. Enjoy!

Image via Irina Gonzalez

Topics: cuban food  traditional latin recipes  hispanic heritage month