Vaca Frita

This is a classic Cuban dish that literally translates from Spanish as “fried cow”. It’s an easy dish to prepare, and it does not require too much supervision during the braising phase.

Braising Ingredients:

2 pounds flank steak
cut into portions

2 whole bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

6 black peppercorns

1 medium yellow, sliced

1 medium green bell pepper, sliced


Mojo Ingredients:

1 teaspoon fresh mashed garlic, 4 tablespoons olive oil, fresh juice from ½  lime,

½ teaspoon black pepper, salt and pepper to taste.


Topping Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, sliced

Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Juice of one fresh lime

Mojo (see above)




Place the steak in a pot or deep pan with a lid. Add just enough water until the beef is covered. Add the bay leaves and the rest of the braising ingredients. Cover the pot, and simmer slowly until the meat is very tender, or about 1½ hours. Remove pot from heat, and allow the contents to cool.

When the steaks are still warm but not especially hot, remove the pieces from the pot. On a plate or in a nonreactive container, shred the portions slightly using two forks, or pull the beef apart to separate the fibers using your fingers.


Combine the Mojo Ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

To make the topping, add about ¼ cup of olive oil to a frying pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and caramelize until golden, stirring only occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions from the pan and reserve set aside. Turn the heat up to medium-high then add the slightly shredded steaks. Cook in the hot oil until they are crispy around the edges, or about three minutes on each side.


Remove the steaks from the heat and arrange on warm plates or a platter.

Top each steak with a squeeze of lime juice and some of the mojo. Place the reserved caramelized onions and cilantro on top. Serve with additional lime wedges accompanied by steaming white rice, or congris, and a salad.

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