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Tu Vez Latino Culinary Academy: Vaca Frita


Welcome to the Tu Vez Latino Culinary Academy! We are determined to teach Latino men how to feed themselves without having to go to a drive-through. Will it be an old family recipe? A delicious cocktail? A trade secret? Stay tuned to find out!

Did you ever play that game where you pondered what your last meal would be if you were a death row prisoner? I know what mine would be: vaca frita. This Cuban meal is chock full of awesomeness, is my favorite thing in the universe. Vaca frita means “fried cow”, which is admittedly a weird name. It is the cousin to a similar dish called ropa vieja, or “old clothes”. What can I say, we have strange names for our dishes in Cuba. My abuela used to make it for me a lot because she knew how much I loved it. As you’ll see in the recipe below there are lots of steps. When I learned how to make it myself, I appreciated all the time my abuela spent making it for me. Here is to abuelas everywhere!

Vaca Frita

(serves 4)

2 pound flank steak or brisket

4 limes

4 cloves of garlic minced

1 large onion

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

First you cook the flank steak or brisket in a pressure cooker, crock pot, or in a pot of boiling water with two bay leaves for an hour and a half to two hours. It should be fully cooked and soft enough to fall apart. This is important, because flank steak and brisket can be tough if undercooked. Then let it cool in the water you boiled it in until it is room temperature. Next you tear the meat into little strips with your fingers or a fork. These cuts of meat will easily tear into the strips you want. Put the strips into a glass bowl and add the juice of the four limes, the garlic, the salt and pepper, and half the onion cut into rings. Let that marinate in the fridge overnight or at least for a few hours. Go drink a beer or do some gardening or something. Better yet, call your abuela and tell her you love her or go put flowers on her grave. Once it’s done marinating, take a large frying pan and pour in the olive oil. Wait till the oil gets nice and hot. Slice up the rest of the onion and saute for a couple of minutes. Then add the strips and onion that were marinating. Let the meat sit undisturbed for a few minutes until the bottom side starts to crisp up a little. Then flip and do the other side. When both sides are a little crispy it’s done. Serve with rice and black beans, yucca, plantains, or french fries. I know it sounds hard, but it really isn’t and you’ll be glad with the result.

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