Texas has its chicken fried steak and we Latinos, well, we have our bistec empanizado. The ultimate comfort food, it’s a go-to dish at many a Cuban, Puerto Rican and Dominican restaurant and typically comes in one size: blanket. And we’re talking queen size. Creeping over the edges of a dinner plate, the steak is deliciously fried, totally decadent and not terribly helpful if you’re trying to eat healthy. Which is why we set out to give bistec empanizadoa makeover.
Our healthy recipe starts in much the same way the traditional one does: by marinating the steaks for several hours in naranja agria (aka seville oranges) and lots of garlic and onions. This not only boosts flavor, it also to tenderizes the meat. (The acid in the citrus breaks down the meat’s connective tissue.) Next, we breaded the steaks in almond meal seasoned with garlic powder (for taste) and paprika (for taste and that nice golden color) instead of the usual cracker meal or bread crumbs. This upped the overall nutritional value since almonds are known to help lower cholesterol and are a great source of fiber, potassium and calcium. (If you’re allergic to nuts, try using panko bread crumbs instead.) Last, we oven baked the steaks rather than fry them in oil, which seriously cut down on fat.
1 1/2 lb top sirloin steak, trimmed of fat and sinew
1 Seville orange, juiced (or substitute 2 parts fresh orange juice, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part lime juice)
1/8 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup slivered almonds (with skins on)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Spanish paprika
1. In a large, shallow bowl combine the orange juice, olive oil, garlic and onion. Add the the steak and cover in the marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare baking sheet by placing a metal rack on top of it, and lightly coating it with cooking spray.
3. Remove the steaks from the marinade. Slice them into approximately 6 ounce portions, or a little bigger than your fist. Place each steak between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and pound until they’re about 1/4-inch thick. Place back into the marinade and set aside.
4. In a medium sized shallow bowl or pie pan combine the almond meal, flour, slivers almonds, salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and paprika. Stir with a whisk or fork to make sure the ingredients are well incorporated. In a second medium sized shallow bowl or pie pan, beat the eggs lightly.
5. Remove steaks from the marinade one by one, and lightly dredge in the almond meal mix, then in the egg, and then again in the almond meal. Place on the rack on the baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the steaks.
6. Lightly spray each steak with cooking spray. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Carefully turn the steaks over, and continue cooking for another 5 to 8 minutes, until the they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes 4 to 6 steaks.