Vaca Frita (“Fried Cow” – Cuban Flank Steak)

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Vaca Frita (

Yields: servings


  • 4 pounds flank steak
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions sliced
  • 2 limes or 1 bitter orange
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)

The name, “fried cow,” gets your attention for sure. This simple Cuban beef dish is comfort food. The crispy, stringy meat just spreads flavor all over your taste buds. It can be accompanied with rice and black beans or with moros (black beans and rice mixed together, pictured), tostones (fried plantains, pictured) and yuca (in the tiny pail under the onions). For those watching their weight, a side salad works well.


Recipe courtesy of Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine (South Florida)


  1. Cut the meat against the grain into serving portions. Place the meat in a pot to simmer with bay leaves until meat is tender, about 1 hour.
  2. Let meat cool for about an hour at room temperature. Tenderize the meat with a kitchen mallet.
  3. Mash garlic to a paste. Rub meat with mashed garlic and season with salt, pepper and lime or bitter orange.
  4. Heat oil in large skillet. Cook the meat until browned on all sides.
  5. In the same oil, quickly sauté the onions and serve over the meat as a garnish.

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