This post may include Amazon links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Simply referred to as ‘Bitoque’ amongst Cape Verdeans, this steak dish is topped with a signature fried egg and is also referred to as ‘Bife a Portuguesa’ in Portuguese restaurants. The dark pan-sauce is made of wine, garlic and butter. Fried potatoes and white rice are served on the side.
Bitoque is one of my favorite restaurant-dishes. It’s a simple dish, but isn’t something I grew up eating at home when I was growing up. Bitoque is Portuguese in origin but often served in Cape Verdean and Portuguese restaurants alike. ‘Bife a Portuguesa‘ is another name used for this presentation which has a brown sauce. In the context of Portuguese food, bitoque doesn’t have to have a sauce.
How to pronounce bitoque
In Portugal and some of the northern islands of Cape Verde, bitoque is pronounced bee-tok. Other Cape Verdean islands pronounce it bee-tok-ee.
What cut of of meat should I use to make bitoque?
For bitoque, you’ll want to select a thin cut of steak that cooks quickly, like sirloin or a New York strip. Ribeye is another suitable alternative. Prepare the steak to your desired level of doneness. My recommendation is medium or medium-rare.
Bitoque Ingredients – (see recipe card below for exact measurements)
- 2 thin-cut steaks (sirloin or New York strip steaks are great choices)
- Salt and black pepper
- Minced or sliced garlic
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Red or Madeira wine
- Salted butter
- ½ cup water
- Fresh cilantro
- Garnish: black Portuguese olives (optional)
- Accompaniments: white rice and fried potatoes
How to make bitoque:
Step 1: Season the steaks
Pat the steaks dry and season them with salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder. Place the steaks in a bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can tenderize the steaks by pounding them with a meat mallet before placing them in the refrigerator, but this is totally optional!
Steps 2 and 3: Bring steaks to room temperature and sear them
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and let them rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. While the steaks are resting, prepare the slurry by whisking the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup.
Pre-heat a large cast iron skillet over a high-flame. Once you start to see smoke rising from the skillet, brush the skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil . Sear each steak for 1-2 minutes on each side. Once both sides are seared, transfer the steaks to a plate, and cover the plate with foil to keep the steaks warm.
Step 4: De-glaze the skillet and prepare the sauce
Once you’ve transferred the steaks to a plate, turn the flame under the skillet down very low, and pour the wine into the skillet to de-glaze it. Loosen any bits from the bottom of the skillet using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula . It’s very important to de-glaze the pan over the lowest heat-setting so you don’t end up with burnt bits in your sauce.
Add the butter, sliced or minced garlic and sweet peppers to the skillet. Once the butter melts, pour in the water/cornstarch slurry, stir and let the sauce simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Cut the flame, and stir in the freshly chopped cilantro.
Step 5: Fry the eggs
In a separate frying-pan or skillet, crack the eggs and fry them to your liking. Sunny-side up is the traditional way, but you can also prepare the eggs over easy. Season the eggs with a little salt and black pepper.
Step 6: Top the steaks and serve!
Plate the steaks and spoon the pan-sauce over them. Top each steak with a fried egg and serve with white rice and fried potatoes on the side. Garnish with a few black Portuguese olives and a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro (optional).