This unmissable Portuguese beef steak dish was created in Lisbon’s cafés and cervejarias in the 18th and 19th centuries. ‘A cavalo’ means ‘on horseback’, an allusion to the appearance that the fried eggs placed on top are ‘riding’ the steak. It is usually served with fries and salad.
This extract from Portugal: The Cookbook by Leandro Carreira takes you through how to cook up an authentic Portuguese steak and egg dish that works just as well as a main for a dinner party as it does whipped up for an easy weeknight meal for two.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
- 600g rump (round) steak, any excess fat removed and cut into 4 portions, 150g each
- 1L sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- 700g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into thin fries
- 10g fine table salt
- 85g brown butter
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 10g (2 teaspoons) Dijon mustard
- 180 ml (3/4 cup) white wine
- 4 eggs
- 1 butterhead lettuce, leaves separated
- 1/2 white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 50ml extra virgin olive oil
- 10ml white wine vinegar
- 15g (2 1/2 teaspoons) sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Leave to marinate for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a large baking sheet with paper towels. Heat the sunflower oil for deep-frying in a large, deep saucepan or fryer until it reaches 180°C/350°F on a thermometer. Working in batches, carefully lower the fries into the hot oil and deep-fry for 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on the lined baking sheet. Season with the fine table salt and set aside.
Heat a large frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 25g of the butter and leave to melt. Add the steaks, one or two at a time, and sear for 2 minutes on both sides, or until golden brown all over. Transfer the steaks to a plate and leave to rest.
Add the bay leaves, garlic and mustard to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add a splash of the white wine and stir with a wooden spoon to release all the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan, then add the rest of the wine and cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, or until reduced by half. Add the remaining 60g of the butter, then remove the pan from the heat and stir to emulsify the sauce. Return the steaks to the pan and leave to rest for a few minutes before warming them again.
Meanwhile, break the eggs into a large, non-stick, dry frying pan or skillet and fry over medium heat for 5 minutes. Bringing it slowly up to heat in this way cooks the eggs evenly without browning on the outside.
Put the lettuce leaves and white onion into a salad bowl and mix together. Dress with the olive oil and vinegar, then season with a pinch of salt.
Serve the steaks in the sauce with a fried egg on top of each steak and with the fries and green salad on the side.
Portugal: The Cookbook includes 450 recipes encompassing breads, soups, vegetables and mushrooms, fish, shellfish and snails, poultry and game, pork, beef and veal, savoury cakes and rice dishes, and desserts.
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