Bife a Portuguesa – Portuguese Steak

4 large peeled garlic cloves, 2 crushed with a cleaver and 2 cut lengthwise into halves
1 T red wine vinegar
1 t salt
Fresh-ground black pepper
4 beef tenderloin steaks, sliced about 3/4 inch thick
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 large bay leaf, crumbled
8 thin slices presunto ham or prosciutto (optional)
1/4 C dry red wine
1 t fresh lemon juice
2 t finely chopped parsley
1 lemon cut into 8 wedges

Preheat oven to 250 F. Mash the crushed garlic, vinegar, salt, and a few grindings of pepper to a smooth paste with a mortar and pestle, or in a bowl with the back of a spoon. With your fingers, rub the paste into the steaks, pressing it firmly into both sides of the meat.

In a heavy skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil over moderate heat. When the foam has almost subsided, add the garlic halves and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Then remove the garlic and bay leaf with a slotted spoon. Add the steaks and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, turning with tongs so they color quickly and evenly. They should be well-browned but still pink inside.

Transfer the steaks to deep plates and keep warm in the oven. If you like, add the slices of ham to the fat remaining in the skillet and cook over high heat, turning frequently for a minute or two. With tongs, place 2 pieces of ham on each steak. Pour off all but a thin film of oil from the skillet, add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits left in the pan and stirring them in. Pour the sauce over the steaks, sprinkle with parsley, and garnish with lemon wedges.

Bob Wilson says this is how he cooks steak in the winter, when it’s too cold to grill. In the summer, you can use the same garlic rub and simply grill the steaks. He also says you can make it with lamb steaks, substituting Madeira for the red wine.