After nearly 3 weeks away from my home (and my kitchen) I'm trying to get back into the swing of things with cooking and blogging. I mean, I've been cooking for the past week, but pretty basic feed-the-family kind of stuff. Nothing terribly exciting. For some reason I always lack motivation and creativity in the summer. Now this dish is VERY exciting! I've been wanting to share this with you all for a while! It's absolutely mouth-watering and though it is time-consuming, it's actually pretty simple. The back story on this dish started in June. In preparation for our trip to Miami (and many other places!) I wanted to make an authentic Cuban dish. Living in Western Pennsylvania, Cuban food isn't something we come across very often. I had no idea where to begin. So, I touched base with my cousin Marla in Miami and asked her what her favorite Cuban dish was. She immediately responded with Vaca Frita - literally translated to fried beef!! She emailed me the recipe she uses from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen and I was on my way!
I decided to make this dish for Hubby's birthday in June and I paired it up with some black beans and rice. Everyone LOVED the dish! Even my very picky 6 1/2 year old asked for more! The only thing I would do differently next time is make more! This recipe managed to feed 6 adults and 2 kids but we had to ration everyone's portions. No one complained though - it's seriously amazing stuff!
While in Miami we were lucky enough to visit an authentic Cuban restaurant. I use the term 'restaurant' loosely because it was kind of like a cafeteria setting. The entire staff spoke only Spanish and the choices were plentiful and unusual. Luckily, my cousin's friend was there to help us out in ordering. We decided to order the same thing we had at home - Vaca Frita with Black Beans and Rice. It was delicious! I am proud to say my homemade Vaca Frita came close to this authentic version! The Black Beans and Rice were WAY better than what I made at home. As a treat we ordered a Coco Frio (Coconut Milk from a coconut) for the girls to share. JP is smiling, but that is BEFORE she tasted it! LOL! I guess coconut milk isn't for everyone! Here are some pictures from our trip taken with my iPhone.
2 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut in half
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup pure Spanish olive oil (I used Arbequina)
1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
Place the beef and bay leaf in a large saucepan, cover with salted water and cook over low heat, covered, until the meat is tender, 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Remove the meat from the pan and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, cut into 2-inch chunks then shred beef with your fingers and place in a non-reactive bowl. Add the lime juice, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or overnight.
** I did this step the night before
Remove the meat from the marinade and squeeze out the excess liquid. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until fragrant. Cook the beef 6-8 minutes, stirring often. Add onions and cook another 10 minutes, continuing to stir, until beef is crisp. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Memories of a Cuban Kitchen
Pittsburgh area mom striving to provide clean, healthy, REAL food for her family!