Spanish Beef Steak, No Passport Required!

August 29, 2023

Spanish Beef Steak, No Passport Required!

Recipe Source: The Institute Cook Book by Helen Cramp

“The Institute Cook Book is planned for a family of four…Economical recipes designed to meet the needs of the modern housekeeper. The author has endeavored to make the recipes as economical as possible and has suggested a few ways in which the expense of food and their preparation may be reduced. She has desired above all things to simplify the work of the kitchen and to reduce the present high cost of living.”

This author speaks to my heart and probably many others.

The Institute Cookbook was printed in 1913. It is a collection of recipes, cooking techniques, tips, and resources. It was originally written to help women elevate their cooking skills to become employed household cooks.

The Institute Cookbook

About the Dish

I have no idea why this recipe is called Spanish Beefsteak. The closest I could find is Bistec Encebollado (bistec is apparently an attempt at pronouncing “beefsteak” in Spanish), but that recipe calls for onions and an entirely different preparation method. It’s possible that the recipe simply evolved over the years.

In any case, I was a little scared of it. I had no idea what to expect from cooking beef with milk and water. I have never seen a recipe like this. According to some quick googling, cooking beef in milk can soften the meat, which would mean using milk with a higher fat content, such as whole milk, would be the best option.

Spanish Beef Steak Recipe

Original Recipe

Unfortunately, there are very few images in a book this old, and the directions are minimal at best. I wasn’t sure if the bacon was supposed to be rolled on the inside or the outside of the steak. I choose to roll it on the outside probably because I’m a big fan of bacon-wrapped food. However, the bacon didn’t crisp due to the liquid it was cooked with.Ingredients: 

  • 2 pounds steak
  • Bacon or salt pork
  • Salt and Pepper
  • ½ cup Milk
  • ½ cup Water


Have the steak cut about one inch thick; pound until thin; season and wove with a layer of bacon or salt pork cut into thin slices. Roll the steak; tie it with a cord and place it in a covered baking dish with the milk and water. Cook for two hours, basting occasionally.

How I Cooked It

This book was written before eclectic or gas ovens were in widespread use. As a result, all the recipes are written for wood-burning ovens, and often provide directions such as “cook in a fast oven” or “cook in a slow oven.” So, I had to estimate the cooking time. I selected 350 degrees, which seemed to work out well. The steak was cooked with a little pink in the middle. However, it could have been too hot for the water and milk solutions, which seemed to separate. If I attempt this recipe again, I’ll probably reduce the temperature to 325 degrees.

I also changed the seasoning and added my personal favorite steak seasoning. This was a personal preference and could be eliminated.


  • 2 pounds of angus beef steak pounded flat
  • Bacon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Favorite steak seasoning
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup water


  1. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper and steak seasoning. Roll the steaks and wrap them with bacon. Skewer steak to keep roll tight. 
  2. Place in a covered dish with water and milk. 
  3. Cook for 2 hours at 350°, basting occasionally.

The prepared dish was nice and something different on the plate from our usual menu. The final judgment was split decision. Half the family liked it, and the other half wouldn’t try it. Oh well, on to the next dish!

Spanish Beef Steak