Are you ready for a taste of Cuba? As travel to Cuba opens up for Americans, there is no better way to get in the mood for exploring a place than to enjoy some delicious native dishes. Vaca frita, or "fried cow," is a classic Cuban dish made with beef slow-cooked in herbs, spices, citrus and vinegar. When the meat is done, it will easily fall apart into juicy, tender pieces. Last, you pan-fry the beef with citrus-marinated onion and peppers to compliment the rich meaty flavors. This last step is important because it creates a tasty crust that provides texture and contrasts nicely with the tender meat. This bright and flavorful dish is great served alongside cilantro rice.
Tip: The first part of this dish can be done in a slow cooker!
This recipe is from The Latin Kitchen, one of my favorite websites for all things culture, food and drink in Latin America. I hope it gets you in the mood for some Cuban adventures to come.
- 4 pounds skirt steak
For the Marinade
- 2 bunches cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup minced parsley
- 1/4 cup minced fresh oregano
- 3 tbsp pickling spice
- 2 tbsp ground oregano
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp dry mustard
- 1 1/2 tbsp Kosher salt
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 sticks cinnamon
- 5 star anise
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Vegetables
- 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 2 red onions, halved and thinly slices
- 10 limes, juiced
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place steaks in a single layer in a large, non-reactive roasting pan.
- Combine cilantro, parsley, fresh oregano, pickling spice, ground oregano, Worcestershire, pepper, mustard, salt, garlic, cinnamon sticks, star anise and bay leaves in a large bowl.
- Add vinegar, oil and 4 quarts of hot water. Mix well and pour over meat.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil, place in oven and bake for 2 hours (Alternatively, place all of this in a slow cooker for 8 hours!). Uncover pan and allow meat to cool in liquid for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
- When ready, use two forks to pull meat into 1/2-inch pieces.
- Combine onion and bell pepper in bowl. Pour in lime juice and season to taste with salt. Mix well, and set aside.
- Heat large, heavy skillet over high heat until blazing hot. Add vegetable oil and half of the meat. Let sizzle until crust forms, about 5 to 7 minutes on each side, taking care to avoid splatters. Repeat with remaining meat.
- Toss meat with onion and pepper mixture and serve.