Vaca Frita, literally translates to “Fried Cow”, was (and still is) one of my favorite cuban meals growing up. Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving my family and I would decorate the house (inside and out) for Christmas. Meanwhile, my grandmother (Lita) was inside cooking this meal for us so after we were outside all afternoon doing the outside decorations, we could come in and warm up. Everyone ate it a different way, put the rice in the soup, seperate the meat, soup, rice, etc. Lucky for me, my husband loves this dish too and requests it quite a bit. It is definitely a meal that requires an afternoon, and plenty of sink space! Would definitely recommend this meal to try out one day this fall (or winter). It is such a comfort food for me, I want to share it with you. Follow my step by step directions below. Let me know your thoughts, would love to hear from you!
3 Cups Uncooked Rice
1 1/2 lb. Flank Steak
2 Onions, 1 onion cut in half, dice the other
7-8 Garlic Cloves, 2 whole cloves (smashed), the rest mince up
1 Bell Pepper or 1 Jalapeno
1 Tomato, cut in half
1 Pack of Sazón
4 Carrots, peeled and diced
4-5 Small Potatos, diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
3-4 Limes, juice
Vegetable Oil (or Canola – I used whatever I had on hand)
Fideos (small chopped up spaghetti)
Place your flank steak, onion (cut in half), tomato (cut in half), pepper (cut in half), 2 cloves garlic (smashed), 1 pack of sazon in your pressure cooker. Fill with water. Close the cooker up and place on high heat. Once the pressure cooker starts to make a steady noise, turn down to medium heat and let cook for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop up your carrots and potatoes and place in a large pot with a handful of peppercorns. Once your Flank steak is done in the pressure cooker, you are going to pull the steak out and place in a bowl. Then you will strain the liquid into the pot with your potatoes and carrots.
Bring the soup to a simmer, then add the fideos (noodles). Let them cook. Once the noodles are finished you can shut the soup off or let simmer on low until you are ready to eat. While your soup is simmering, shred your flank steak (I like to cut mine into thirds first), then shred using 2 forks. Add your remaining diced onion, minced garlic and lime juice (for 1 lb. of meat I would do 3 limes). Cover and let sit about an hour so the flavors can soak in.
While your meat is sitting aside, you can cook your rice (follow package directions).
Also you can prep your plantains for your tostones. Tostones are twice fried plantain slices. Cut your plantains into 1 inch pieces, peel the skin off. In a pot (I dont have my spanish silver pot which is ideal, but you can use a saucepan – gets the job done). Pour enough vegetable or canola oil so the plantains can sit in oil and be covered (my pot was too large so instead of filling with oil, I ended up flipping). Place the plantains in your oil and let cook for about 2 minutes per side (3-4 minutes if you are not flipping). Remove from oil and place on a paper towel plate. Since I do not have my tostone press, I improvised on this next step. I placed each 1 inch plantain onto a piece of paper towel, then covered it with another piece. Next I smashed down using a can from my pantry. Put to the side until ready for meal time.
After about an hour, place you meat, onion, garlic and lime juice into a saute pan and let cook. I usually like mine to be a bit crunchy on parts of the meat so let cook for a couple minutes, making sure to keep mixing so the meat does not get stuck to the pan.
Right before meal time, place the smashed plantains back in the oil for a couple of minutes on each side (2-3 per side). Remove and place back on a paper towel plate. Sprinkle with salt.
Next assemble. I like to put my rice in my soup, then pile the meat and tostones on top. I also like to serve with fresh lime for some extra acidity. The broth will be pretty bland, sometimes I like to use jalapeno instead of bell pepper to give it some more flavor.
De mi cocina a la tuya, ¡disfruta!
From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!