Twice-cooked, Cuban-style flank steak, or vaca frita may take a little time, but it's well-worth the effort. First, the meat is boiled until tender; then it's cut, shredded, and marinated overnight. The following day, the meat is pan-fried and served atop white rice with sautéed onions, caramelized plantains, and wedges of lime.
If you want to gussy things up, heat a bit of vegetable oil in a large frying pan, and add 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds. Sauté until fragrant and toss with white rice.
- Yield:Serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:About a day
- For the Beef and Onions:
- 2 medium onions, peeled, divided
- 2 1/2 pounds flank steak
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
- 6 cloves garlic, divided
- 2 bay leaves
- One quarter cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
- One quarter cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Kosher salt
- Cracked black pepper
- One-half cup, plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 3 cups cooked white rice
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- For the Plantains:
- 3 ripe plantains
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
Quarter one onion. Place beef, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large pan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the meat from the stock and allow to cool. Strain stock and reserve for another use.
Cut meat into 2-inch cubes. Shred it by hand and place in a large, non-reactive bowl. Add the lime and lemon juices, sherry, cumin, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Stir, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
Remove the meat from the marinade and squeeze out excess liquid. Heat 1/2 cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once it’s sizzling, add the beef and fry, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium, and push beef off to one side of the pan. Thinly slice remaining onion. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the open area of the pan until shimmering. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, stirring periodically, about 7 minutes total.
Trim the ends of the plantains and peel. Cut each on the bias into 1/2-inch thick slices. Toss with brown sugar. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Line tray with a single layer of plantains. Spray plantains with cooking spray and transfer to the oven to bake until golden brown and caramelized, flipping half way through, about 4 minutes per side.
Remove plantains from oven and serve immediately alongside beef, pan-fried onions and cooked, white rice with limes for squeezing on top.