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Quick Portuguese Sautéed Beef with Pickles ❦ Pica Pau

This dish is a classic of the beloved Portuguese tasca. Tascas, adored most in Lisbon, are tiny little restaurants. Little holes in the wall. Not fancy, decorated or adorned. Not worried about Trip Advisor reviews, that have been there for not just years. but generations. They are the pure heart and soul of the city. Here you can order the daily special, o prato do dia, and wash it all down with small cups of cold house red wine. Yes, I said cold. Many older gents, my father included, would shiver at the thought of room temperature red wine.

The best thing about a tasca? The fast plates, petiscos, of delicious Portuguese fare. Snails, chicken gizzards, prego no pão or bifana (Minute steak or pork sandwich), cheeses, tremoços (lupini beans), olives, pastéis de bacalhau (salt cod fritters), croquetes (savoury meat filled logs dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and deep fried), rissóis (pillow soft savoury with seafood béchamel sauce usually shrimp ), pataniscas de bacalhau (salt cod fried in a tempura batter). You get the picture. FYI, with lupini beans you can't eat just one.

The best food adventures I have had in Lisbon weren't eating at the fancy restaurants, which we did a lot of, but of laughing and talking about non-sense, politics and what Maria down the street was doing with the plumber, with some of the most humble people on the planet. Picking up the small pieces of fried beef and pickles with a toothpick, of course, and sipping on an ice-cold Imperial, a draught beer. I hope you enjoy making this lovely dish, so you too can be transported to Lisbon. The name of this dish translates literally to woodpecker, most obviously because you "pick" at the meat with a wooden toothpick. The pickles and olives are mandatory. If you can't find pickled cauliflower and carrots, I couldn't, in your supermarket read my post on how to make Home-made pickled vegetables. Here I also added some pickled baby onions and pickled mushrooms. Delicious! Feel free to experiment. Don't forget a good crusty baguette to soak up all the delicious sauce.

Keep those pics coming, I love seeing them.


Quick Sautéed Beef with Pickles ❦ Pica Pau

Serves 4

600 g. Beef sirloin or ribeye steak, cut into long thin strips

50 g. Lard

50 g. Unsalted butter, cold

60 ml. Extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. Yellow mustard, such as American French's brand

300 ml. Beer or white wine, I used a Corona

50 ml. Brandy (optional) but highly recommended

Piri-Piri sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)

3 Bay leaves torn in half

6 Cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

Course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Black olives, whole

Pickled vegetables mix, coarsely chopped

If using mini onions leave them whole

1 tbsp. Fresh whole leaf parsley to serve

Extra Piri-piri sauce to serve

1. In a bowl add the beef, beer, bay leaves, sliced garlic, Piri-piri hot sauce, if using, and 1tsp. of course sea salt. Let marinate a minimum of 30 minutes.

2. Place a large frying pan on high heat and add lard and olive oil. Lift beef from marinade and reserve marinade for later.

Add beef to the hot oil, being careful as it will splatter.

Fry beef for 2 minutes, turning often to ensure evenly cooked.

Using a slotted spoon remove beef from pan onto a plate and set aside.

3. Turn heat down to low.

Stir in mustard. A whisk should help clumps disolve quicker. Add reserved marinade.

Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium, let sauce reduce by half. Should take just a few minutes.

Discard bay leaves

6. Whisk the cold butter, a little at a time, into the sauce over low heat. This step is optional, but it is my secret finishing touch.

7. Add beef back to pan and gently heat until beef is just heated through, about 30 seconds.

Pour it into a big sharing bowl and top with pickles and olives. I added some whole Bird's eye chillis just for presentation.

Serve immediately.

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