By Steve Roitstein
One of the best things about Cuban culture is Cuban Food. Vaca Frita is one of my favorite Cuban dishes. It translates literally as “Fried Cow”, which is always fun to joke about. Some people mistakenly call it “Shredded Beef” but that name typically refers to “Ropa Vieja” (old clothes) which is made with tomato sauce. If a cook or a restaurant makes a great Vaca Frita, the rest of their dishes are probably also good.
VACA FRITA RECIPE
- 2 pounds flank steak or skirt steak
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, sliced
Place the meat, salt and bay leaves in a stock pot, preferably with a heavy bottom. Add sufficient water to cover the meat. Cover the pot and simmer on medium heat for about an hour or until the meat is tender. Remove the meat and place on a plate to cool. Save broth in a food storage container for next step and for other uses. Discard bay leaves. Set empty pot aside to dry.
When the meat is cool, pull into shreds with your fingers or with two forks and place in a bowl. Add the seasoning and enough of the broth to moisten, about 1/4 cup. Mix well and set aside.
Heat the same pot to medium heat. Add olive oil and onions. Sautee the onions for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Increase heat to medium high and add the shredded meat. When the moisture has cooked off, lower to medium heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until some of the meat is brown and crispy, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat. Serve with lime wedges. Accompany with rice and beans or moros.