A Culinary Mulligan: A Vaca Frita Do-over…

Who hasn’t made a stupid mistake that ruined a meal? I’ve made several…from undercooking pasta (al dente or toothsome does not mean jaw breaking) to breaking a glass oil container, which sent shards of glass all over, including into the ground burger meat I was mixing. What better way to learn (aside from repetition)?

I attempted to retry the failed Vaca Frita recipe from about a month ago, as referenced in a previous post titled “Cooking Fail”.

This time, the dish was pulled off without a hitch. It makes me, and I’m sure everyone else, feel a great sense of accomplishment when a dish works out. It feels even more rewarding to correct mistakes and make it even better the next time.

I love vaca frita, and I often order it when I go to a Cuban restaurant. This was a recipe that was kind of pulled from several other ones and adapted to my tastes. Feel free to change it up to how you desire it.

All measures are approximate since, as usual, I hardly measure a darn thing (unless I’m baking or making some sort of pastry/dessert recipe).

Steps 1-7 should be done a few hours before you plan on serving, if possible. Otherwise, at least an hour ahead so the steak can absorb some flavor and marinate.


– 1 to 1 ½ pound flank steak

– 2 bay leaves

– 2-3 whole garlic cloves

– 2-3 finely minced garlic cloves

– 1 Tbsp ground cumin

– 10 whole black peppercorns

– 1 medium onion, cut into thin slices

– Juice of 2 limes (or 3 if you like more citrus)

– Salt and pepper (to taste)

– Olive or canola oil (for the “frita” part of the recipe)

– Cayenne pepper (optional) for some heat

The Steps:

1: Make sure the stupid plastic pad is not on the steak, as I forgot to do last time, lol.

2: Place the steak into a large pot and fill with enough water to cover the steak (keep an eye on this during cooking to make sure it does not get too low)

3: To the pot, add the bay leaves, cumin powder, whole garlic cloves, and black peppercorns

4: Cook over medium heat until the water boils, then reduce slightly so that it is not boiling too rapidly. Cook for about an hour to an hour and a half. You don’t have to babysit this, just check periodically to make sure the water level is okay.

5: Take the steak out and place into a bowl. Let it cool for about 10-15 minutes.

6: Shred the flank steak using two forks. It doesn’t have to be done with too much precision. Big and small chunks make it seem more rustic and homemade.


7: To the shredded steak, add the lime juice, minced garlic, a few teaspoons of oil, and the onions. Also add the salt and pepper (Measurements weren’t given, but about ¾ to 1 teaspoon of kosher or regular salt, and as much pepper as you like). You can always add more salt if it’s not salty enough. Add the cayenne if you want as well. Mix and make sure all of the meat is evenly coated. Let sit for at least an hour, or for up to 6.

8: When ready, heat a large nonstick skillet and add a few teaspoons of the oil. Add about 1/3 to ½ of the steak and cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning the meat or garlic. When it is golden brown and the onions are soft, transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining meat.

 Serve over rice and beans, or however you like. This may also be good in tacos or in a burrito.



Until next time,



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Filed under Cooking, Dinner, Favorite Foods / Drinks, Recipes

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