Beef Espetadas

Beef Espetadas via http://underthebluegumtree.comFor this month’s Random Recipe Challenge hosted by Belleau Kitchen we have been tasked with choosing a recipe from a friend or relative’s cookbook collection.

This posed a bit of a conundrum for me as most of my friends and family are several thousand miles a way on the other side of the world. Being the billy-no-mates that I am, I don’t really know anyone locally whose cookbook collection I can rifle through without security being called. So I must admit I cheated and asked the OH to choose me a recipe from his small but perfectly formed braai (that’s BBQ for the non South Africans among you) book collection.

Whilst these books might technically be on my shelves, they are the OH’s domain as being a stereotypically feeble female, I am rubbish at making fire. Either by luck or deception, the OH’s random recipe choice just happened to come from the best braai book we own, Fireworks by Jan Braai. And the recipe? Beef espetadas.

Hailing from Portugal, espetadas are essentially a beef kebab. We have quite a lot of Portuguese food here in South Africa, influenced by the early Portuguese settlers and also neighbouring Mozambique (an ex-Portuguese colony). Did you know that it’s thanks to this culinary hotchpotch of cultures that the world was given Nandos? I’ll let you decide whether this was a gift or a sin.

Anyway, back to the espetadas. Traditionally the beef cubes are marinated in Madeira, but you can also use sherry or port or similar. In my case, I took the opportunity to use up a near empty bottle of Marsala which I had kicking around.

This is a really simple recipe with the marinade just enhancing the natural beefiness of the steak. Great served with my favourite Portuguese bread and a dash of spicy peri-peri sauce.

Beef Espetadas via

Beef Espetadas (adapted from Fireworks by Jan Braai)

Serves 4

  • 10 fresh bay leaves, shredded
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 75ml Madeira, sherry, port or Marsala
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1kg beef steak (I used rump) cut into large cubes
  • skewers

1.  Mix together the bay leaves, garlic, oil, Madeira, salt and pepper and pour into a large freezer bag. Add the cubed steak and coat well in the marinade. Seal the bag and refrigerate for about 5 hours or overnight.

2.  Divide the meat between the skewers and braai over hot coals for 8-10 minutes, turning a couple of times and basting with any left over marinade. Serve immediately with plenty of fresh bread and peri-peri sauce.


  1. Yum! The only times I have had espetadas it has been in Capetown or cooked by a South African Portuguese guy in Sydney! He did his with red wine, I think your way with Madeira sounds better. He also served them with the most amazing boiled potatoes ever – with lots of bay leaves and salt in the water I couldn’t believe how good a boiled spud could be!

  2. Thanks Alicia. A good tip about the red wine, especially if you don’t have any fortified wine to hand. Those potatoes sound like an amazing accompaniment. I’ve never thought of boiling potatoes with bay leaves but now you mention it, it sounds like a great idea.

  3. Ang

    These look so good. Our braai has been packed away for the winter so I’ll have to bookmark these for when the sun decides to make an appearance.

    • Sorry if I’m making you envious with my BBQ foods. If it’s any consolation, it is disgustingly hot and sweaty here today. There is a happy medium somewhere! I’m sure these espetadas would also be fab cooked on a griddle pan on the stove.

  4. laura_howtocook

    The best ever Nando’s I ever had was over 10 years ago when on holiday in South Africa. The spice levels were perfect and the fries were so much better than over here. As for the meat, well, I have not had better meat than I have tasted over in SA. You are lucky and it is so well priced from what I remember. A delicious way to enjoy a good bit of rump steak and I would be able to use my Marsala which I love!

    • Yup the meat here is truly fabulous and reasonably priced, especially the steak. I never order steak in a restaurant these days as we are so lucky to be able to eat it all the time at home. Also thanks for making me realise I had spelt Marsala wrong all the way through! I was so busy trying to make sure I got “espetadas” right that I wasn’t paying attention to anything else🙂

  5. they really look beautiful and I too cannot wait for the summer so that these can be made at Belleau Kitchen… the spices alone make these sound mouthwatering… thanks so much for entering this month… I LOVE the fact that you chose from your OH’s collection… it’s a very nice way to join in x

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