Prego no Pão (Garlic Nailed Steak in a Bun)

Prego no Pão

Garlic Nailed Beef in Bread Rolls


Serves 2 to 3             

 Which came first, the Prego rolls of South Africa or the Portuguese Prego no Pão on the mainland. In South Africa, you will find these are very popular for Saturday lunches and served up with an ice-cold beer. Confirmed by Sam Silva of South Africa, the sauce which comes from  the cooking of the seasoned beef itself is what I consider “Prego sauce”, not to be confused with the Prego pasta sauce in the jar. Some contemporary cooks in South Africa may add a touch of tomato paste to the pan sauce.          

 Growing up, we referred to this dish as Bife a Portuguesa the name I gave in Portuguese Homestyle Cooking though it is also known by some as Bife no Prego. Since I have had requests for Prego no Pão and "prego sauce" I have again given it here but with some variation.

¾       pound of sirloin steak, cut in ½  inch thick slices, trimmed of  any  visible fat

1        teaspoon coarse salt or to taste

½       teaspoon ground black pepper

6        cloves garlic (or more if you like) thinly sliced

½       stick (4 tablespoons butter)

1        large onion, thinly sliced

½       cup white wine

Pinch chili pepper (optional)

Pinch cumin (optional)

1 to 2 teaspoons tomato paste (optional)  

1.  Place the steaks on your workspace or cutting board. Season with the salt and pepper.  Lay slices of garlic on one side of the steaks.  Using a tenderizing mallet, “nail” the garlic (hence the name prego) to the steak by pounding the slices into the meat.  Repeat on the reverse side of the steaks.

2. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry each steak in the butter for barely two to three minutes, turning once.  Transfer to a dish and cover. 

3.  Melt the remaining butter in the same skillet.  Add the onions and sauté until they are golden. Transfer the onions to the dish holding the steaks. Pour the wine into the same skillet.  Add the chili pepper and cumin, and tomato paste (if using) at this time. Using the flat edge of a wooden spatula, scrap up the brown coating on the bottom of the pan.  Raise the heat to medium-high and reduce the sauce slightly.

4.  Return the onions and beef to the sauce and heat through for 1 minute.  Serve the beef and onions, drizzled with the sauce, on crusty rolls with a salad on the side for a perfect lunch. There are those who also enjoy tossing the lettuce and a slice of tomato into the bun itself with the steak.