How to make perfect vaca frita (fried shredded beef) using a cast iron skillet

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Hispanic culture is filled with so much rich history that can be felt through its foods. To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, learn how to make vaca frita — a popular Cuban dish made with one of the most widely used proteins in Hispanic cuisine: beef. Plus, the only cooking utensil you need for the recipe is this best-selling cast iron pan that runs for just $15.

Vaca frita, or “fried beef,” is a traditional Cuban dish that’s prepared with shredded-then-fried flank or skirt steak. It is topped with sautéed onions, a squeeze of lime and is usually served with sides of rice, black beans and plantains or tostones.

Credit: Daniel Menendez

While any stockpot or sauté pan can be used to prepare this dish, a vessel that conducts high heat evenly is best. Nothing helps achieve even heat better than cast iron cookware.

While not all cast iron skillets and pans are made equally, Lodge stands as one of the most-trusted and reliable options on the market. Recognized for its hefty, quality cast iron items, the company offers premium cookware at affordable prices. In fact, the skillet used for the vaca frita recipe in the video above only costs $15.

Shop: 10.25-Inch Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet With Assist Handle, $14.88 (Orig. $26.68)

Credit: Amazon

In addition to your cast iron skillet, you will need very few ingredients to perfectly execute this flavorful Cuban dish. We’re talking under 10 items.

While watching the full vaca frita video tutorial above, you can follow along with the recipe below. And don’t forget to invest in a Lodge cast iron skillet as part of the recipe prep.

How to make vaca frita

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut your flank steak in half, and place it in a large saucepan filled with generously salted water. Ensure the protein is completely submerged. Throw in a bay leaf or two, and cook on low heat for at least an hour and a half.
  2. Once cooked through, remove the meat from the stock and allow it to cool at room temperature. Once it has cooled, shred the beef using your fingers or a fork.
  3. Next, place the steak into a large bowl and add the lime juice, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix together with your hands to infuse the protein with the seasoning. Once thoroughly mixed, marinate the meat for one hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Once marinated to your liking, remove the meat from the bowl and squeeze out the excess liquid.
  5. Heat up the Spanish olive oil in your cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is glossy and fragrant, add the shredded beef and stir-fry for six to eight minutes.
  6. While the beef fries, slice the onion and add to the skillet. Stir everything well for five additional minutes or until the beef is crispy.
  7. Add some chopped parsley for garnish if you’d like and there you have it: Your own Cuban vaca frita!

If you enjoyed this story, you might like to read about this $15 Lodge cast iron skillet that has over 30,000 5-star reviews on Amazon.

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