Cuban cuisine is hearty, luscious, flavorful – and meant to be shared. One of the most classic Cuban recipes, vaca frita, is also one of my favorites. A close cousin of ropa vieja, it’s a vibrant dish featuring tender and crispy beef infused with garlic and island-fresh lime. Served with rice and black beans and a cold mojito, it’s the perfect taste of Cuba. ¡Buen provecho!
Lime-Marinated Crispy Beef, Serves 4 to 6
1 ½ pounds flank steak, cut into 4 pieces
1 sweet white onion, quartered with 4 cloves inserted
1 bay leaf
3 large cloves garlic, lightly smashed
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Olive oil, for frying
POACH THE STEAK In a large Dutch oven, place the steak, onion quarters and bay leaf in just enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, keeping the meat in the broth. When cool enough to handle, shred the steak into long pieces with the grain of the meat. Reserve.
MARINATE THE ONIONS In a large bowl, mix the garlic, sliced onions and lime juice. Marinate for 1 hour.
FRY THE STEAK In a large Dutch oven over high, heat a ¼-inch-thick layer of olive oil and fry the meat, stirring minimally, until crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the meat and hold warm. Add the onion mixture, decrease the heat to medium and allow the onions to soften, about 10 minutes.
TO SERVE On a platter, spread the onions in a layer and top with the meat. Serve with black beans and rice, and a wedge of lime.
We hope to see you in Havana soon!