Bifes a la criolla —thinly-sliced steaks stewed with onions, peppers, and potatoes— is a classic Argentine meal, one of those honest, unfussy, flavorful dishes that best characterizes Argentine cuisine. This isn’t the sort of meal you’ll generally tuck into in a restaurant. Instead, bifes a la criolla lies within the domain of the home cook, a typical dish that can be prepared quickly and easily scaled up to feed a crowd. And if you didn’t start out with a crowd to feed, one will have assembled after getting a whiff of what’s cooking in your kitchen!
Some Argentines include potatoes in their version of bifes a la criolla and others leave them out or cook them separately (e.g. mashed potatoes). I like the addition of potatoes because it makes this more of a complete dish. Add a simple salad and some crusty bread to sop up the juices, and you’re all set. If you want to make the dish even heartier, add the eggs as noted at the end of the recipe.
Bifes a la Criolla
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. sirloin tip roast, rump roast, or beef round, trimmed of fat and cut into ¼”-thick slices
2 large onions, julienned
2 large red bell peppers, julienned
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and sliced in ¼”-thick rounds
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tsp. ají molido [substitute crushed red pepper flakes]
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup beef stock
chopped parsley, to taste
In a Dutch oven or other pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Beginning with the slices of meat, add alternating layers of beef, onion, red bell peppers, and potatoes, seasoning each layer with salt, black pepper, ají molido, and thyme. Add the bay leaves and the beef stock, pouring down the side of the pot to avoid disturbing the seasonings. When the pot comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for approximately 40 to 50 minutes, tightly covered, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Serve with chopped parsley on top.
[Optional]: At the end of cooking, crack one egg per person over top of the meat and vegetables. Cover and cook until the egg whites set.