Bife a Portuguesa

Portuguese dishes tend to be highly seasoned and this recipe for fillet steaks in red wine is no exception. If you prefer, you can use rump steak instead of fillet. Although less tender, it usually has more flavour. Bife a Portuguesa (beef ah por-too-GAY-zah) is traditionally served with Batatas a Portuguesa, arranged in a ring around the meat.

4 large garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and

2 cut in half

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

4 fillet steaks, about

1-inch thick

2 oz. butter

1 teaspoon thyme large bay leaves

4 thin slices lean smoked ham (preferably prosciuto)

2 fl. oz. dry red wine

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 lemon, cut into

6 slices

In a small bowl, mix the crushed garlic, tomato puree, vinegar, salt and pepper together. Coat the steaks with the garlic mixture, cover them and set them aside for 30 minutes.

In a large, heavy frying-pan, melt the butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the garlic halves, the thyme and the bay leaves to the pan. Cook them for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove the garlic and the bay leaves and discard.

Add the steaks to the pan and fry over moderate heat for about 4 minutes on each side. Turn the steaks at 1 minute intervals, so that they brown quickly and evenly. The steaks should be brown on the outside, but pink in the centre.

Transfer the steaks to a heated serving dish and keep hot.

Roll up the ham slices and add them to the same frying-pan. Turning them frequently fry them over high heat for 2 minutes.

Place a ham roll on each steak.

Carefully pour away almost all the fat from the pan. Add the wine and lemon juice to the remaining fat. Bring to the boil over high heat. Stir well and simmer gently for 1 minute.

Remove the sauce from the heat and pour over the steaks. Garnish with lemon slices. Serve at once.

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