| portuguese prego rolls

July 19, 2010

They were selling these rolls in the streets of Lisbon, Portugal, when I was there this time last year. They were cooking on a big metal drum. Hordes of drunken revellers from all over Europe were being fed succulent steaks slapped into chewy white bread rolls. Smoky and mouth watering, they were a much more savoury option than the other street sellers who hissed, “Hashish, hashish, cocaine,” from the street corners. But we’d just eaten, we decided to drink a little first, then come back and have a late night Prego Roll to soak up the alcohol.

Sitting in the gutter with a group of Portuguese surfers – quick friends – drunkenly discussing, in English, our inability to speak Portuguese, we forgot about the Prego Rolls. They said, “Learn Spanish, Portuguese is like poetry: much too difficult.” When we walked back to where the drum had been set up there were simply empty plastic cups covering the streets and not a delicious roll – or even a drug dealer – to be found. Devastating.

This year, Sarah and I made these on a sunny afternoon as an early dinner. Cooking made the kitchen smoky and hot and the steaks tasted so beautifully of bay leaves, garlic and wine. Year long craving – satiated!

Portuguese Prego Rolls
from Piri Piri Starfish, Tessa Kiros

2 x 120g pork steaks or sirloin steaks (about 5mm thick)
3 tbsp of red wine
2 fresh bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed a bit
30g butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil, for frying
2 Portuguese bread rolls
piri piri sauce (or a little chili), to serve

Marinate the steaks in the wine, bay leaves and one of the garlic cloves for a couple of hours, (or even better – overnight) before you cook them.

Heat the butter with the other garlic clove in a small pan until the butter turns a bit golden. Season with salt and pepper and take off the heat.

Shake the meat out of its marinade and pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat the olive oil over high heat in a non-stick pan that will fit both steaks. When the pan is very hot, add the meat and fry quickly, turning once.

Remove to a plate, keep warm and add a sprinkle of salt to the meat while it’s resting. Meanwhile put the halved rolls under the grill until very slightly crisp and warm. Pour the marinade into the pan and let it bubble up well. When it has thickened a bit and tastes good, dip the cut sides of the rolls in to soak up some sauce. Put the bottom half of the roll on a plate, blob some of the garlic butter on and then the steak. Pour on any juices from the steaks when they were resting and drizzle the piri piri or chilli sauce. Put the top on the rolls, squish together and serve at once.

Serves 2.

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portuguese prego rolls: 8 comments

  1. Lydia Says:

    Any hints on where to procure Portuguese bread in Melbourne?

  2. romy Says:

    Casa Iberica on Johnston Street in Fitzroy has these soft white rolls.

  3. Lydia Says:

    Just discovered that this morning 🙂

    Had one of their amazing mega rolls.


  4. romy Says:

    Yes, I think Sarah and I usually go halves in one!

  5. Tayla Says:

    I went to some of my local bakeries and they did not have any Portuguese rolls, what could I use as a good substitute (soemthing that is more common) ?
    Oh and you say “When the pan is very hot, add the meat and fry quickly, turning once.” Around how long is ‘fry quickly’ ? Thanks 🙂

  6. Tayla Says:

    oh and would the recipe still work if I used sherry instead of red wine ? sorry, i’m new to cooking so i get a bit lost sometimes, haha. thanks !

  7. romy Says:


    Any fresh white roll will be delicious! With the ‘fry quickly’ it depends how thick your steaks are – four minutes on one side and three on the other if they are very thin. And yes, red wine makes a good substitute for the sherry.

  8. Sean Says:

    I live in Somerset West W Cape South Africa and am a Portuguese roll fan. the best P roll i found comes from Pick&Pay.

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