Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a caballo

How to make b

Bistec a caballo is the kind of hearty, Colombian chow that will feed a child with a full grown appetite – and grow the appetite of an aged person. The seasoned steak and eggs are as easily gobbled up by children on the back porch (barefoot from playing in the creek, their minds already on the next adventure), as they are sliced up during a late summer dinner party (complete with twinkling candles, and bottles of Cerveza Ancla – a popular Colombian brew).

You’ll have an opportunity to host your own South American dinner party thanks to the authentic Colombian CEM Cookware featured in today’s photos. But first, let’s explore a delicious Colombian recipe to bring to your party.

Recipe for Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a Caballo

Feeding children’s imagination

Though I had an overactive imagination as a child, I was never much good at certain types of pretend. I specifically remember trying to make myself have an imaginary friend because all the other kids had one.

I drug a rope around as a leash for two pitiful minutes before I gave up.

Sasha Martin as a little girl

When I was about 6 years old.

Even though I couldn’t conjure up characters, going on adventures in character was one of my favorite pastimes. My brother Michael and I ran the neighborhood as any number of characters. Often he was the Lone Ranger and I was Tonto – mostly because I loved Tonto’s brown and white horse named Scout. We didn’t have a creek to play in but our feet were chalky from running in the playground sand across the street. We were gone from the house for hours – finding rocks, sticks, and questionable scraps to play with – until we were so hungry we’d gobble up anything mom made.

Little cowboy Michael loved when Mom made steak.

Colombian thoughts on childhood

As I prepared to make my first-ever batch of Colombian bistec a caballo, I couldn’t help but think about Michael’s love of steak. And I found myself wondering about the Colombian experience of childhood.

I stumbled across a snippet of poetry from the Colombian modernist poet José Asunción Silva  (1865-1896) – the man immortalized on the 5,000 pesos bill.

Silva on the 5,000 Pesos bill

Silva on the 5,000 Pesos bill

After experiencing the death of his 4 siblings (3 by the age of 10) Silva certainly had conflicted feelings about his early years. He wrote in his poem Childhood that the “hazy memories / Time so generously glorifies” help us maintain a “fantasy of happy childhood days.”

But the poem ends beautifully:

Childhood, hallowed valley
Of blessed calm and coolness,
Where rays that will later blast our days
So softly shine,
How saintly your pure innocence,
How fleeting your brief happiness,
How sweet in hours of bitterness
To turn back to the past
And call upon those memories!

Excerpt from “Childhood” by José Asunción Silva

I can relate to Silva’s impassioned sentiments. Michael has been gone since 1992 – just a boy himself when he died – but my hallowed memories of long afternoons romping through the neighborhood on an imaginary horse are certainly sweet… even if they are part fantasy.

"Casa de Poesía Silva 1" by Martinduquea - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

A child plays in the doorway of Silva’s house in Bogotá . Photo by Martinduquea.

"Casa de Poesía Silva 2" by Martinduquea - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Silva and a photograph of his courtyard today (courtyard photographed by Martinduquea).

What does bistec a caballo mean?

I’d like to think bistec a caballo is the kind of meal Michael would have gobbled up. Sure, the seasonings are different from what Mom would have used – cumin, garlic, oregano, and cilantro – but the spirit of the thing is right up his alley.

But alarm bells might go off if you know Spanish. After all, caballo means horse.

But have no fear. Tonto’s beloved Scout was not harmed in the making of this dish.

Bistec means beefsteak – and, in poetic terms, bistec a caballo is a Colombian cowboy feast… a dish on horseback, so to speak.

Recipe for Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a Caballo

To make it, most Colombians add flaps of steak to a pan along with onion, tomato, and the occasional crush of garlic. But I was drawn to the recipes that marinate and grill the steak – this gives it an unctuous crust and deeper flavor – before topping it with pan-fried onion and tomato.

So, who is the rider?

It could be the smothering of onion and tomato.

Or it could be the fried egg.

I happen to think it’s all three.

How to make Bistec a Caballo

First, marinate a tender cut of steak in oregano, garlic, cumin, oil, salt, and pepper.

Recipe for Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a Caballo

Let the steak rest this way for a good hour. Overnight is fine, too.

My family loved flap steak for this recipe; it’s well-marbled with loads of nooks and crannies (these crevices help the marinade soak into the steak). You could also use skirt steak but it’s a bit less porous and more expensive.

Recipe for Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a Caballo

When you’re almost ready to eat, cook up some rice.

Meanwhile, add a pile of onion to a well-oiled pan. This Colombian clay skillet keeps the onions moist, even as the turn golden.

Recipe for Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a Caballo

Once they soften, add some garlic and chopped tomato.

Recipe for Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a Caballo

Season well and cook until the tomatoes have just begun to slump into the onion’s sweet warmth.

Look for golden hues…

Recipe for Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a Caballo


Next: grill the steak and fry some eggs.

I like to grill my steak over high heat for several minutes per side. Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of your cut – but mine was medium after 5-7 minutes per side.

Recipe for Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a Caballo

Finally, assemble the dish!

Each person gets rice topped with steak, the onion mixture and a fried egg (don’t forget to add a sprinkling of fresh cilantro).

Enjoy for brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Vegetarian version of bistec a caballo

Oh, and vegetarians (like my daughter) can substitute a portabella mushroom for the steak … just marinate it the same way!

Recipe for Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a Caballo


The Giveaway!

CEM Cookware

Colombian Entertaining Prize Package

UPDATE: Congratulations to “Eva” – I just did the random drawing and YOU are the lucky winner 🙂

One of you will win Colombian cookware and plates for your very own dinner party, generously provided by Colombia es Mas Cookware (CEM Cookware). To enter, simply leave a comment sharing what you’d like to cook in the casserole! A winner will be selected by 8/24/2015 and announced in this post.

The Colombian Entertaining Prize Package includes:

The Large Casserole
A set of 4 Salad Plates
Salsa Dish with Lid and Spoon
Total value: $155


Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a caballo
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Cumin, garlic, and oregano seasoned steak served over rice - and under onion, tomato, and egg. Wonderful for a dinner party.
Servings Prep Time
2-4 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
2-4 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 1 hour
Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a caballo
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Cumin, garlic, and oregano seasoned steak served over rice - and under onion, tomato, and egg. Wonderful for a dinner party.
Servings Prep Time
2-4 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
2-4 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 1 hour
For the marinade
  • 1 lb beef flap meat - OR -
  • skirt steak
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano - OR -
  • dried oregano (1 tsp)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
For the topping
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 large onions , sliced in rings
  • 2 tomatoes , chopped
  • 1 clove garlic , crushed
  • salt
  • pepper
For serving
  • white rice (cooked)
  • 2-4 eggs , fried (1 per person)
  • fresh cilantro , to garnish
Servings: people
For the steak
  1. Cut the steak in 2-4 pieces. Add to a plastic bag and toss well with marinade ingredients. Refrigerate for about an hour or overnight.
For the sauce
  1. When you're almost ready to eat, cook the rice. Meanwhile, fry a pile of onion rings in a well-oiled pan over medium heat. When they soften and begin to brown add the garlic and chopped tomato.
  2. Season well and cook until the tomatoes have just begun to slump into the onion. This should take about 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.
Finishing Touches
  1. Grill the steak over high heat (depending on thickness and size of cut, this could be about 5 minutes per side).
  2. Fry the eggs while the meat rests.
  3. Assemble the dish: Each person gets rice, topped with the steak, then the onion mix, a fried egg, and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro. Enjoy for brunch, lunch, or dinner.


  1. Sj Dc says

    would love to make a simple slow cooked vegetables and chickpea coconut curry

  2. Penelope says

    I’d love to make some kind of soup since Colombians seem to be big time into them, maybe I could learn to be a fan. Which one would be up to what I can find at my local local market.

  3. The cookware sort of reminds me of something I saw at a Korean restaurant that bibimbap was made in, or it could just be the similar ingredients, fried egg, rice (crusty in the bottom of the pan in bibimbap, if I am remembering correctly) and beef. I would love to try to make bibimbap in this!

    Just finished your book, loved it! Making your bolognese sauce as soon as summer ends and I am motivated to be near a stove!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Great idea, Lisa with the bibimbap – I had a similar thought. Enjoy the rest of your summer and Alfred’s sauce 🙂

  4. Clarice Dyer says

    Since its summer and zucchini season, I want to bake my mom’s zucchini casserole.

  5. Erin Ellis says

    How wonderful! These would be perfect for my summer squash soup! Thank you for the wonderful giveaway.
    ErinLoves2Run at gmail dot com

  6. Frankie says

    How delicious, I want to make the bistec a caballo now! I would also like to try making some traditional Columbian hot chocolate…yum!!

  7. Hello Sasha! Yummy looking recipe. I would love to cook in these, I’m a chef so this cookware would sure get used on a regular basis. I see my self cooking in this set – Chicken and Dumplings,Beef Tagine,Grandma Luig’s Bolognese Sauce (The best!) ,Pulled BBQ Pork etc… 🙂

  8. Rileysmom says

    How fabulous to win these!! A friend and I are planning our 61st International Dinner! I don’t believe we’ve done Colombia…yet!
    Thank you for all your inspiration, Sasha!

  9. madelincwolf says

    I’d like to cook some Mayacoba/Peruanos beans in the pot. I am in love with their subtle flavor; kind of like a cross between white beans and ? Haven’t quite figured that other one out yet. Their yellowish color is also appealing. Thanks for the opportunity to win the set!

  10. Hello Sasha! Delicious Recipe, ( I’m a foodie by heart chef by trade) I can picture my self cooking Chicken and Dumplings, Beef Tagine, Grandmother Luigi’s Bolognese sauce, BBQ pulled pork in this Awesome Cookware P.S Love Your Site!

  11. Mary Dyer says

    We have just discovered quinoa, so I see me trying a recipe with that in this cookware.

  12. PS. My son-in-law was born in Venezuela and his grandparents are from Colombia! We put a version of this recipe in their recipe book that they gave out as gift to all who attended their wedding. It has his and our family recipes!

  13. sarah stienbarger says

    I would love to layer some rice with local salmon and veggies with some seaweed. My daughter’s favorite meal

  14. Theresa Garton says

    Beautiful post! I’d love to make a Moroccan beef recipe I have, in that cookware.

  15. theresa puckett says

    I just returned from a trip to Colombia. We had the most amazing chicken and potato soup, Ajiaco Bogotano, prepared and served in this same sort of cookware. I got the recipe from a local woman and I would cook this.

  16. Probably a chicken curry…
    (Love your website! My mother told me about it – she reads you every day – and you, along with David Lebovitz, are her two very favorite food websites.)

  17. I would make an Eastern European dish, with cabbage, onions, tomatos, garlic, and peppers straight from the garden, layered with a rice and ground beef mixture and topped with a tomato sauce.

  18. Cindy Aiton says

    Beans! I would love to test the theory that beans are better when cooked in a clay pot. Many thanks to you and CEM Cookware for offering such a wonderful giveaway.

  19. deneen says

    I imagine a big beautiful stew in this gorgeous cookware. Ohhhh….how I would love to have this in the middle of my table.

  20. Lynn Jarrett says

    What beautiful cookware!! Pick me, pick me!! I would like to cook some black beans with cumin, onions, cilantro, tomatoes, fresh ground peppercorns, and onions. Fingers and toes crossed!!

  21. Sylvia says

    Wow, gorgeous! My homemade salsa would finally have a perfect home… And in the casserole I would make our favourite summer vegetable soup from Linda McCartney … Thank you for this opportunity!

  22. I would cook the wonderful recipe you posted here! The idea of a perfectly fried egg on top of a lovely rare steak makes me nearly swoon! 🙂

  23. The cookware reminds me of home Enttebbe When we go to the village, we cook with clay pots – oh the flavors that come out of a slow roasted groundnut stew. I am curious if this flavor might best be mimicked in this casserole pan.

    Perfect for curries. Coconut curry and jamaican chicken curry.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Congratulations, Eva – I just did the random drawing and YOU are the lucky winner 🙂

  24. Besides the said curries (because I, too, would make a coconut curry any day of the week…and often do…), I would simmer some meat and veggies in there until the meat fell off the bone and I had a hearty, healthy bone broth stew. As a young professional on a budget, this cookware would be a beautiful piece in my humble kitchen!

  25. Carla S says

    I would make chili or chicken and dumplings in the casserole first. 🙂

  26. Arni Swanson says

    I would absolutely cook a bean soup of some kind, looks perfect for a really spicy hot Chili.

  27. Andrea Bomgaars says

    Gorgeous cookware! Looks perfect for a big batch of chili on a cool fall evening.

  28. Rene Marie Foust says

    What a wonderful opportunity! I would love to try the recipe that you just provided, your story has inspired me and these dishes, well lets just say they inspire me too. Thanks for the opportunity

  29. Que bueno! Since my son married a Costa Rican & my daughter’s husband is Mexican, either of them would be thrilled to present their Latino favorites in these dramatic black dishes! Including their homemade salsas & guacamole in that lidded dish, which would keep flies away as we can eat outside all year in sunny SoCal…Sasha, You asked what actress could portray you in a film of your moving autobiography: have you seen the French film, “Two Days, One Night” – Marion Cotillard who was nominated for best actress in US & Europe. She plays a loving but depressed mom of 2 young kids & her husband is a regular blue color guy who is incredibly kind & caring (like yours – except no motorcycle 🙂 It takes place in Belgium or France – countries you also lived in! Check it out & let me know what you think. I know someone in LA in the film industry (well, a friend of another son who lives in NYC)

  30. Kathleen Wilson says

    I do a lot of baking, so the possibilities are endless! But a colorful ratatouille would really contrast with this striking set.

  31. I was browsing the library’s new book section when I found your book and promptly went home and devoured it. Thank you for sharing your life with us. You made the painful parts of your life beautiful in the telling and gave me hope that I too could take the bad parts of mine and make them into something better and helpful to others. So many times we keep that pain hidden, that door closed. Life hurts, and here we are on this beautiful day going forward and finding love and friendship and hope.

    My daughter is now 12 and she spent most of her life as a very picking eater. It is only recently that she is exploring and really enjoying a variety of foods. After reading your book, we found your web site and have been using it for our geography/global studies lessons. (We are homeschoolers) There is no better way to learn a culture than eating the food. My daughter made a big map (inspired by yours) and each time we cook from a country and learn a bit about it, she colors it in on her map. The first thing we would make with the cookware is your recipe. She loves to try to imitate exactly what you created. And then afterward, we experiment…

    • Sasha Martin says

      Love your story, Ashana – from your words I feel you are on your path. And I love what you’re doing for/with your daughter. Please give her a hug for me.

  32. These look amazing! I would love to cook fried rice in these, have the rice precooked and add a raw egg that cooks with the steam from the rice. DELISH!

  33. Janet Goodell says

    I am going to make this dish only with the venison steaks a friend recently delivered. I don’t know the Spanish word–it might be venado a caballo. In this big casserole, I might place a yummy spicy Caribbean-style chicken dish with homemade salsa.

  34. Sara Diamond says

    In the big casserole with the lid I would slow cook shell beans, shredded cabbage, and garden tomatoes with spicy sausage and plenty of garlic! I would serve this with potatoes and yams roasted by the serving in the smaller platters. I would use the small side dish to serve a sauce of some type – maybe a cilantro based spicy sauce. Yum Yum Yum.

  35. Diane Smith says

    I would take these heirloom beans I bought and make Cuban Black Beans which come out so delicious with the onion and pepper and garlic, some cumin and vinegar. They are so delicious and anything cooked in clay, especially beans, are supposed to taste even better!

  36. Denise says

    I love these black dishes. I would love to braise some chicken with figs and serve on warmed plates.

  37. Slow Braised Pork Shoulder with Chimchurri and Arepas! Love braising in La Chamba pots! I bought my first on YEARS ago, the large bean pot.

  38. George C. says

    I would make a version of beef carnitas. With some fresh herbs to top and tortillas.

  39. Marcie says

    I’m going to go with food! I’d love to cook all sorts of delicious food in casserole. 🙂

  40. I am spanish and my husband is chinese. I can imagine making a seafood style hotspot or stir fry steak or a spanish guisado of pollo or carne. Having to cook two different styles of food gives me so much joy. I can just imagine my chinese meals in the casserole pot, how gorgeous my seafood would look. 🙂

  41. Deanna Tirrell says

    I like to mix cultures, so I’d cook a cassoulet that is a family favorite!

  42. Kami Collins says

    I would love to try the Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a caballo recipe from your post. What a great give away.

  43. Mike holt says

    Being a veteran..I had the chance to eat food from all over the world…for me – chorizo, chicken, onions, chick peas, tomato…eggs and some bread.

  44. We made Bistec a caballo the day after you published it – it’s wonderful! And I’d happily make it again to serve in the beautiful cookware. I love the way the black ceramic essentially frames and enhances the color and presentation of the food. I’d also use it to serve another of our favorites – Bibimbap, though now that I’ve given it some thought, I can’t think of a dish that wouldn’t look great in that cookware.

  45. My friends and I have started a dinner club with our husbands and this month’s food is from Morocco. I would choose a chicken dish with preserved lemon, green olives and thyme.

  46. Your photography is so beautiful and lovely. I can’t wait to make these dishes and hope it turns up as delicious as yours

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