3.8 109

Vaca Frita: Crispy Beef

  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

This recipe for vaca frita ("fried cow") is a close cousin of Cuba's famous ropa vieja, stewed shredded beef in tomato sauce. The beef for vaca frita, however, is marinated in lime, garlic and salt, then seared until crispy. The key to achieving the perfect texture is to cook the beef in small batches, so it sautes rather than steams.

Plus: F&W's Beef Cooking Guide


slideshow  More Beef Recipes


KEY: Braising, Father's Day, Game Day, Caribbean, Cuban, Latin American, Fast, Healthy, Staff Favorites

Related Video

More Videos
The Easy Way to Make Soft, Airy Chinese Steamed Buns


  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and quartered
  • 2 large onions—1 halved, 1 thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the flank steak with the bell pepper, halved onion and bay leaf. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat for 20 minutes. Transfer the flank steak to a work surface and let the steak cool. Strain the broth and reserve for another use. Shred the meat and transfer it to a bowl.
  2. Using the side of a large knife, mash the garlic to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir the paste into the meat, along with the lime juice, olive oil and sliced onion. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Heat a large, flat griddle until very hot. Working in batches, spread the shredded beef on the griddle in a thin layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat, turning once or twice, until sizzling and crispy in spots, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated overnight.

Serve With

Rice and beans.

Suggested Pairing

This tangy, beefy homestyle dish needs an easygoing, juicy red wine as a partner; for instance, a spicy Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.

Contributed By Photo © Lucy Schaeffer Published May 2009

Related Video

More Videos
The Easy Way to Make Soft, Airy Chinese Steamed Buns

490882 recipes/vaca-frita-crispy-beef 2013-12-06 Lourdes Castro braising|fathers-day|game-day|caribbean|cuban|latin-american|6|fast|healthy|staff-favorite may-2009,Loaurdes Castro,vaca frita,cuban shredded beef,flank steak,ropa vieja,Cuban cooking,shredded beef recipes,vaca-frita-crispy-beef 490882