Saturday, May 2, 2009

Vaca Frita de Esther

On Sunday we set out to learn how to make “the best Vaca Frita in the world”, according to two very reliable sources – the “chef's” teen-aged grandsons. Who knows more about food than teen-aged boys? The teacher was Esther, our friend’s mother, who took over her daughter’s kitchen to teach us how to make this delicious Cuban staple.

We’re dividing the recipe into two parts – Part One is cooking the meat and Part Two is frying the meat.


Part One
½ head garlic – smash the cloves
3 Roma tomatoes – quartered
1 large onion – cut in large wedges
1 green bell pepper – cut in strips
1 teaspoon of Sazón or other Latin seasoning mix
½ teaspoon salt
1½ lbs Beef Flank Steak
Water to cover the ingredients

Part 21 large onion – thinly sliced
3 heaping teaspoons minced garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon salt
Olive Oil to coat the pan


This recipe makes approximately 6 servings

Part One

  1. Cut the meat vertically, with the grain, in half or thirds (depending on its width).

  1. Add the meat, vegetables and seasoning to pot.

  1. Add the water to cover the ingredients.

  1. Set pressure cooker as usual. Cook on medium for 30 minutes until the meat is fork tender.

  • NOTE: If you’re not using a pressure cooker, just follow the recipe as indicated, except let the meat and other ingredients slow boil for at least an hour until the meat is fork tender.

  • NOTE: You can also use a slow-cooker setting it on Low for about 8 hours.

  1. Turn the heat off and take pot off heat source. Let the pressure release completely.

  2. Remove meat and set aside.

  • NOTE: The broth and vegetables make a great base for soup.

Part Two

  1. Shred the meat using your hands and/or a fork.

  1. Add salt, garlic, half of the sliced onions, and the lime juice.

  2. Coat a frying pan with olive oil and add mixture to the cold pan without heating the oil.

  1. On medium heat stir the meat constantly, adding additional onions and more oil gradually as needed.

  1. Once the onions are soft and the meat cooked, raise the heat and sear the meat until it’s slightly brown and crispy.

Serve with white rice and black beans, or plantains, or all three!

As usual there was wine and great conversation, with some family gossip, memories and secrets being shared – fun! We all enjoyed a wonderful lunch of Vaca Frita and since we doubled the recipe we had enough to take some home!

¡Buen provecho!