My F&W
quick save (...)
Vaca Frita: Crispy Beef
© Lucy Schaeffer

Vaca Frita: Crispy Beef

  • ACTIVE: 30 MIN
  • FAST

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 sautés rather than steams.

Plus: F&W's Beef Cooking Guide

  1. 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut into 4 pieces
  2. 1 green bell pepper, cored and quartered
  3. 2 large onions—1 halved, 1 thinly sliced
  4. 1 bay leaf
  5. 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  6. Salt
  7. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  8. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  9. Freshly ground pepper
  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.



Average Rating



Add A Comment

    Add a Comment

    See our terms
    You must be logged in to comment. or
    You might also like
    The Dish
    Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
    The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
    F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.

    Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.

    Join celebrity chefs, renowned winemakers and epicurean insiders at the culinary world's most spectacular weekend, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 19-21.