The literal translation for “vaca frita” is “fried cow”, which is not exactly the most appetizing name. However, the fact is that this is one of the tastiest steak dinners in Cuban cuisine. It’s basically a fried flank steak that gets parboiled, shred apart when tender, and then re-fried with onions, garlic, lime juice and some spices. This dish reminds me of my father because he would insist that the chef burned the meat and made it nice and crispy. He always assured the waiter it was ok, he wouldn’t send it back, and I can’t say I blame him; there’s something about the crispy edges that makes it extra tasty. I don’t finish mine off in the same manner that the restaurants do it. Their method is to take the shredded beef and lay it out on a flat grill or pan with a press on top so when it’s toasty, it sort of becomes one unified fried piece. I simply re-fry it up in a large skillet pan and leave it all shredded. I’ve come to learn, it is a favorite dish among several of my friends as well, and it’s not hard to see why: vaca frita is down right delicious. This recipe is strictly mine. I’m sure other people make it their own way, but this is the way I make it and it rivals any restaurant’s.
I tend to not measure a thing when I cook, so when my recipe calls for a seasoning as part of the ingredients and there’s no stated amount, sprinkle lightly/liberally once over the entire contents of the pan. You can reduce cooking time by placing the flank steak in a pressure cooker and boiling it for 30 minutes. Be sure to depressurize the cooker fully before removing the cover. Serve with white rice and black beans and fried sweet plantains.
Comments, questions or suggestions? Be sure to let me know below in the comments!
- 1 to 1.5lbs flank steak
- 1 white onion
- 2 limes
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 c olive oil
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- oregano(just a pinch)
- Place the flank steak in a large pot of boiling water and to the water, add a little bit of salt, garlic powder and onion powder (maybe a 1/2 tsp?).
- Boil the steak over medium heat for 75-90 minutes, remove from the water and let cool slightly.
- When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred the meat apart with your hands or two large forks or whichever method works best for you.
- Reserve about a cup of the beef broth.
- In a large skillet/pan, add 1/4 c olive oil, garlic and onions and saute until the onions are translucent.
- Add the shredded beef to the pan and the broth you reserved from earlier, sprinkle some salt, black pepper, a dash of oregano and a dash of paprika over the beef and stir together well.
- Cook over high heat until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Once all the liquid is gone, squeeze a lime into the pan and continue to saute the beef until the meat is thoroughly cooked.
- Serve with white rice and black beans and fried sweet plantains. Put a lime wedge or two on each plate.
- You can reduce cooking time by placing the flank steak in a pressure cooker and boiling it for 30 minutes. Be sure to depressurize the cooker fully before removing the cover.