Saturday, April 11, 2009

Vaca Frita

I must say that the Cubans don't have the most appetizing names for their country's most famous dishes. Vaca frita (fried cow) is a close relative to ropa vieja (old clothes). Whatever you want to call it, though, the dish boils down to the basic element of shredded beef. Where ropa vieja gets stewed in tomato sauce, vaca frita is marinated and seared until crispy.

I tried this recipe last night and it was a breeze to make, although a bit time consuming if you plan to start cooking in the evening. You need to allocate enough time for the beef to marinate and it took me quite some time to shred the beef (but that could be because I bought brisket instead of flank steak. I think it's higher fat content made the task more difficult). The result, I believe, was no less delicious. The tangy lime and garlic marinated beef paired nicely with side of black beans and rice.
Vaca Frita
(from Food & Wine, May 2009)

1 1/2 lbs flank steak, cut into four pieces
1 green bell pepper, cored and quartered
2 large onions - 1 halved and 1 thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 cup plus 2 TBS freshly squeezed lime juice
3 TBS olive oil
freshly ground pepper

In a large saucepan, combine the flank steak with the bell pepper, halved onion and bay leaf. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Remove flank steak and let cool. Strained broth can be reserved for another use. Shred the meat and transfer to a bowl.

Using the side of a large knife, mash the garlic to a paste with 1/2 tsp of salt. Stir the paste into the meat, along with the lime juice, olive oil, and sliced onion. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.

Heat a large griddle until very hot. Working in batches, spread the shredded beef on the griddle in a thin layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat, turning once or twice, until sizzling and crispy in spots, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter and serve.

(photo published on Tastespotting, 6/29/09)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We marinate and grill flank steak almost every weekend. This would be a great alternative, especially with your warning to start well ahead. I wonder if you could even prepare it a day ahead, and leave the actual frying until just before you need it.

Anyway, I found you on TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


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