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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Puerto Rico-style steak tender, full of flavors

By Bill Daley
Chicago Tribune

On a recent visit to Puerto Rico, I found myself eating skirt steak at both lunch and at dinner every day — and loving it.

Use a skirt steak to make sofrito-marinated steak the way they make it in Puerto Rico.

Bob Fila • Chicago Tribune

Perhaps it was the relative tenderness of the beef, full of flavor and just enough chew for texture, or perhaps it was the sofrito, a savory blend of puréed peppers, onions, cilantro and garlic used throughout the Caribbean as a seasoning base or marinade. This medley of flavors brought out a delectable smokiness in the beef.

Skirt steak is cut from the beef flank and is actually the diaphragm muscle; you can substitute flank steak if you can't find skirt steak.

Making a Puerto Rican-style steak is easy at home. My butcher volunteered to score the meat on both sides. Scoring helps tenderize the beef and allows the sofrito to penetrate deep into the flesh for fuller flavor.

Marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes before cooking. Go longer when you can, to 2 or 3 hours, for a fuller flavor.

This recipe makes 2 cups sofrito. Use 1 cup for this recipe and refrigerate or freeze the remainder for use in another dish, like sautéed chicken. Mince the sofrito ingredients into a rough paste if you lack a food processor. Alternately, chop the vegetables into small pieces, place in blender with olive oil and purée.


  • 1 each, cut into 1-inch pieces: onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, cored, seeded
  • 1 bunch cilantro or flat-leafed parsley
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound flank steak, scored on both sides

For sofrito, purée onion, bell peppers, cilantro and garlic in a food processor; add olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread 1 cup of the sofrito over the flank steak, working the purée into the meat's crosshatching with your fingers. Allow the meat to marinate for at least 30 minutes; 2-3 hours is best.

Prepare a grill or broiler; grill or broil the meat to the desired doneness, about 8 minutes per side for medium rare. Let rest 5 minutes; slice.

• Per serving: 238 calories, 45 percent of calories from fat, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 54 mg cholesterol, 9 g carbohydrates, 23 g protein, 1,236 mg sodium, 2 g fiber