CUBA: Learn more about your food

Vaca Frita

This recipe for vaca frita (“fried cow”) is a close cousin of Cuba’s famous ropa vieja, stewed shredded beef in tomato sauce. The beef for vaca frita, however, is marinated in lime, garlic and salt, then seared until crispy. The key to achieving the perfect texture is to cook the beef in small batches, so it sautés rather than steams.

Original Recipe Yield

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds beef flank steak
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Directions:

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the flank steak on each side, about 4 minutes per side.
  2. Transfer beef to a slow cooker. Pour in the beef broth and tomato sauce, then add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomato paste, cumin, cilantro, olive oil and vinegar. Stir until well blended. Cover, and cook on High for 4 hours, or on Low for up to 10 hours. When ready to serve, shred meat and serve with tortillas or rice.

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