Cuban Vaca Frita recipe - How to Make "Fried Cow"
This is a classic Cuban dish which translates
from Spanish as "fried cow" due to its crispy texture.
It's an easy dish to prepare if you already have leftover roast in
the fridge, although the recipe below doesn't require you to watch
the beef during the simmering stage.
2 pounds flank steak
2 whole bay leaves
6 black peppercorns
3 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
2 small limes, cut into wedges
juice from one lime (or two tablespoons lime
2 medium green bell peppers, sliced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoon salt
Place the steak in a pot or deep pan, and just enough water until
the beef is covered. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns. Cover the pot, and
simmer until the meat is tender, about 1 ½ hours. Remove pot from heat, and
allow the contents to cool down.
When the steak is still warm but not especially hot, remove it from the
pot. On a plate or in a nonreactive container, shred the beef using two forks,
or pull the beef apart using your fingers. Add the seasonings, sherry and lime
juice, and mix them into the beef using your hands. Set aside.
Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan over medium
heat. Add onions, bell peppers, and sautee until the onions are tender (about
5-8 minutes). Turn the heat up to medium-high, then add the shredded beef. Cook
the beef for 5-15 minutes, until it is crispy.
Remove from heat and serve with lime wedges. It can be
served by itself, with white rice on the side, or with
moros y cristianos. Serves 4-6.
For some, it is common to place the cooled pot in the fridge
after the meat has simmered, and let it marinate overnight before frying the
following day. The leftover beef broth can also be used for soups or
Rather than shred the beef, some Cubans will simply cut the
meat (with the grain) into small strips after simmering. In that case,
after cutting the beef you will want to pound it with a mallet until the pieces
are about half as thick as before.
Not everyone cooks vaca frita with bell peppers, so it's not
uncommon to leave them out. And although some cooks will add a splash of lime
juice to the beef immediately after cooking, adding lime wedges means people
can squeeze juice on as they see fit.
Main Cuban recipe pages:
• soups •