bifana – sliced pork tenderloin with caramelized onions and garlic aioli on focaccia

Bifano 4 1024x682 bifana   sliced pork tenderloin with caramelized onions and garlic aioli on focaccia

The coupon for $15 off at Ceia Kitchen and Bar in Newburyport, MA that I got at the Techmunch conference a few weeks ago was all the motivation we needed to make a day trip. Joseph and I headed to Newburyport for my first real excursion since knee surgery and I hobbled around town moving from one bench to another (luckily Newburyport has a lot of benches!). It was a beautiful day and I was so excited to be out of the house that my mood was absolutely jubilant before we even sat down for lunch at Ceia and things only improved from there.

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We knew we were going the panino route and they only had four panini on the menu, so you’d think it would have been an easy choice, but it really wasn’t. I suggested we split the sandwiches because I really wanted to try all of them, but we still had a hard time narrowing it down to just two. The decision was made both easier and harder after our server explained that the bifana panini was written up by Boston.com as being one of Boston’s best sandwiches (easy choice) and that the special of the day was a lobster BLT panino (you’re giving us another option?!?). We decided on the bifana and the lobster BLT and and as wonderful as lobster BLT sounds and as good as it was, it didn’t even come close to the amazingness that was the bifana. I was absolutely in love.

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Joseph, my wonderful, amazing husband who is always up for a challenge, declared that we could make this yummy sandwich at home and I was all for finding out if we could get it to be even half as delicious as Ceia’s. Once we saw the whopping $30 price tag on a pound of beef tenderloin, we meandered over to the pork tenderloin which was considerably more affordable. Turns out bifana is traditionally made with pork anyway!

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So what is bifana? It’s a Portuguese sandwich made with pork marinated in wine, vinegar, garlic, and herbs. Ceia uses beef tenderloin and serves it with caramelized onions and pepronata aioli. We used pork tenderloin and the same garlic aioli that we used with our oven baked garlic fries, and of course the caramelized onions. Our version wasn’t quite the same as Ceia’s beef sandwich, but the marinated pork was super juicy and packed with flavor, while the caramelized onions rounded it out really nicely. All in all, it was just as good and it’s a whole lot cheaper to make at home. Still, we might just have to go back to Ceia sometime and get a bifano to go for a picnic by the water.

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