Prego Prego

The Fabulous Prego Roll.

Thick, chewy, spicy, garlicky, luscious and the roll of my youth.

Prego Rolls are Portuguese in origin, made with steak, crusty bread and lashings of peri peri sauce.
As South African’s, we know Peri Peri from the Mozambican and Portuguese immigrants. The origin of Peri Peri is contested hotly. The Mozambican’s say they invented it (it’s made with the Bird’s Eye Chili which is grown in Africa), but the Portuguese say they invented it…and maybe they did. After all, Mozambique was a former Portuguese colony. But whomever has the legitimate claim to the sauce, I am a huge fan!
Many times we would venture as a family to the Southern Suburbs of Johannesburg, which is where all the greatest Portuguese Restaurants are based. There was a lot of Peri Peri on the menu – and because of it, Peri Peri has become something of a national condiment in South Africa. But whatever you call it, or how ever you spell it – Peri Peri, Piri Piri, Pil Pil, it’s all made from the same source – the Birds Eye Chili.

Here is the recipe, adapted from Tessa Kiros’s book ‘Piri Piri Starfish‘, one of my favourite cookbooks at the moment.

(serves 4)

One pound/500g thinly sliced steak (each piece of steak being roughly the size of your palm and about 1/3 inch / 3 – 5 mm thick.)
4 to 6 Portuguese Rolls, or any crusty roll with a soft, chewy interior (a french baguette would suffice in a pinch)

Tomato Peri Peri Sauce:
3 large ripe tomatoes, diced
1 cup mild olive oil
one teaspoon butter
A generous 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Large pinch of sugar
6 dried peri peri chillies, or to taste, finely chopped or crushed in a pestle and mortar
2 large garlic cloves
Half a lemon

Heat the oil in a smallish heavy based saucepan
Add tomatoes and butter and simmer for about 25 minutes
Add salt, sugar, peri peri and garlic and simmer for a further 8 minutes.
Remove from heat and using a hand held blender , puree roughly.
Add a large squeeze of lemon juice, and taste.
If necessary, add more salt and peri peri (I did, and then some)

Cook the steak with whichever method you prefer.
I lightly sauteed my steak – it took about 10 or 15 minutes total (I did it in batches)
Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside; keep warm.

Slice rolls/bread/baguette in half, place one side of cut bread in the pan to mop up the cooking juices, making sure to leave enough for all slices of bread.

Slather some of the peri peri sauce onto the roll, place a few slices of the cooked steak, add more peri peri, a squeeze of lemon and finish with a small pinch of course sea salt. At this point I think I added even more peri peri, but you will do whatever your taste buds command. Place the other side of the bread on top and flatten the entire roll with the palm of your hand. There is no rhyme or reason to the last step, it’s just what I think you should do!

If you like, add some arugula/rocket to the sandwich, but either way, sit back in the warm sun, open a beer and thank the person who invented the Prego Roll. You won’t be sorry!

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