Cuban Vaca Frita

Vaca-Frita

Vaca frita’s crisp deliciousness is most transcendent when you get off a flight at MIA and rush over to Versailles to welcome your palate back home. Whenever I go back to Miami I have my mandatory must-haves, and vaca frita is one of them- like croquetas, pan tostada with café con leche, Publix subs, pastelitos, Pollo Tropical, and if I’m lucky Mary’s Coin and Laundry Pan Cubanos.

Vaca-Frita-seasoned-flank-steakVaca-Frita-with-housemade-mojo

Vaca frita is tender shredded flank steak marinated with garlicky mojo and fried crisp with white onion. Garnished with a squeeze lime it is best enjoyed with los tres amigos- friojles negros, arroz blanco, y platano maduros. Vaca frita is a Cuban classic that is one of my favorites. This is a dish I most often order out and rarely have cooked at home.

Vaca-Frita-with-fresh-garlicVaca-Frita-ready-for-mojo

When I was cooking this vaca frita recipe I realized hadn’t made this not even once since I last cooked it with my abuela. Sometimes I feel like I am stumbling through the steps with vague memories and recipe doubt, but this vaca frita was seriously perfection. Crispy. Flavorful. Home.

vaca frita picture perfect

Vaca Frita

For the steak:

  • 5-2 lbs flank steak (falda)
  • 1 large onion cut lengthwise, reserve half
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 bay leaves (hoja de laurel)
  • Enough water to cover the steak
  • ¼ c dry white cooking wine (vino seco)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil for frying

For the mojo:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of one lime

To serve:

  • Lime wedges
  • White rice, black beans, and platano maduros

Rinse the flank steak and add it to a heavy pot. Add half of the onion, half a green bell pepper cut in large chunks, 2 whole garlic cloves, and 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp cumin, the bay leaves, and freshly cracked black pepper.

Vaca-Frita-with-seasoningVaca-Frita-seasoned

Cover with the flank steak with water. Bring the water to a boil then turn the heat down to a low simmer and cook for 2 to 2.5 hours uncovered. Add water if needed (I didn’t) to avoid the pot from burning. DO NOT cover the pot while the flank steak is cooking and be sure to stir every once in a while so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.

While the flank steak is cooking away make the mojo. Mash the 4 garlic cloves with 1 tsp salt and 2 tbsp olive oil with a mortar and pestle. Add the juice of one lime and mash a little more. Set aside.

vaca-frita-with-mojovaca-frita-with-homemade-mojo

Remove the flank steak from the cooking liquid and shred with two forks while hot. Discard the onion and garlic, and keep the bell pepper. Remove the thin skin off the green bell pepper and mash it while hot. Mix the mashed green bell pepper with the shredded beef and add the mojo. Let it sit and marinate for a few minutes while you prepare the onions. Take this time to start cooking the white rice.

Vaca-Frita-Cuban-Comfort-FoodVaca-Frita-is-ready-to-be-seasonedVaca-Frita-with-pureed-green-pepper-and-onionVaca-Frita-Cuban-Recipe

Slice the other half of the onion. Sautee the sliced onions in 2 tbsp olive oil until slightly tender. Remove the onions from the oil and mix in with the mojo-marinating shredded flank steak. Add a little more oil to the pan as needed and get nice and hot. Seriously if your pan doesn’t start out hot the meat will just steam instead of getting crispy. Flatten the shredded beef out to cover the bottom of the pan so all of it can get nice and crisped. Cook the vaca frita about 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Squeeze lime and sprinkle a little salt before serving the vaca frita. Enjoy vaca frita with white rice, black beans, and a lime wedge on the side.

Share this: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Cuban Congrí aka Arroz Moro

arroz-moro

Congrí called by any other name still taste as delicious…moros, congri, arroz moro, moros y cristianos…call them what you will- congrí is still a Cuban soul food staple to be enjoyed at any meal. This recipe is for a lazy person’s congrí. I feel accomplished enough when I cook nowadays, like I deserve a shiny medal for coming home exhausted from work and cooking an honest meal. I recently started working regular hours aka 7 to 6ish, and it is seriously more exhausting than when I was working irregular hospitality hours. I know, I know, everyone is rolling their eyes saying “We know this already Ash, the Monday to Friday hustle is brutal. Welcome to the club sister”. Well, I just got here so take pity on my newbie soul!

sofrito-and-beans sofrito-basegarlic-clove

My congrí is cutting corners, aka I am using canned beans. This won’t make your rice as black as traditional Cuban congrí or as dry, but honestly it tastes exactly the same. Making the beans is a mission and tacks on an extra 30 min to an hour (plus more dishes) and that is frankly time I just don’t have right now.

moros

Arroz moro or congrí is my preferred Cuban side dish. I always order “moro y maduros” with any main dish- Churrassco, Palomia, Bistec Empanizado, or Pollo a la plancha are best with congrí. For some reason I wouldn’t have congrí with masa de Puerco, ropa vieja, or vaca frita but that is just me (and I like to think I am an expert ‘orderer’). Congrí is the red beans and rice to Cuban soul food, and makes me feel like there is a little slice of home right here in my kitchen. Short cut or not- this congrí is still damn delicious and has Cuban goodness packed into each bite.

sunny-side-up

Cuban Congrí aka Moros aka Moros y Cristianos

  • ½ green bell pepper diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin (optional)
  • ¼ tsp ground oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 ¾ cups black bean stock
  • Pork chunks (optional)
  • Lime wedge garnish
  • Olive oil

Make the sofrito with the bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Add olive oil to a large pot and add the onion and bell peppers. Cook until translucent; add half the salt and pepper. Add 2-3 of the garlic cloves finely minced reserving some for later. Add the cumin, oregano, and bay leaf. Cook 2-4 more minutes. Drain the black beans and reserve the black bean liquid for later.

sofrito-ready-for-congrugreen-bell-pepper rice-for-congri

Add the rice stirring well for 2-3 minutes in the pot to incorporate the oil, sofrito, and seasonings (much like a risotto). Add the black bean water, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat. Cover with the lid and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the black beans and stir well. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.

sofritocongri-cookingsalsa-de-ajocooking-liquidmoros-y-maduros

After you have added the black beans, heat two teaspoons of olive oil or butter. Add the remaining garlic and quickly sautee. Set aside. When the moros are done stir in the sautéed garlic. Plate the congrí or arroz moros with a lime wedge on the side. Serve with your favorite Cuban dish like bistec empanizado, bistec palomia, roasted chicken, pollo a la pancha, or just enjoy with fried eggs like we did. Fried eggs are not a normal accompaniment, but I love them. Congrí goes great with platanos maduros or tostones as well.

congri-with-a-fried-egg

Share this: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page