This past weekend, to give us a last hoorah before the fall semester of school starts, Andy and I went out to West Virginia with a group of friends and went white water rafting. I was the only one who had ever been before, and just like before, it was an AMAZING time. With car break downs, over 150 beers, and pretzel pong, we made it through the weekend. The feeling of being back home from the wilderness was a great joy. So to celebrate coming home, I made Vaca Fritas, a traditional Cuban dish of crispy beef.
1 & 1/2 lb flank steak, cut into 4 pieces
1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 large onion, 1 cut in half, and the other thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, smashed
juice from 1 lime
3 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Adapted from Food & Wine May 2009 issue
In a large pot or saucepan, combine steak, green pepper, halved onion, and bay leaf. Cover with water and simmer under medium to high heat for about 20 minutes. Take steak out and let rest on cutting board. Strain the broth and you can either pitch it or save it for another dish. I always take the opportunity to save fresh stock as opposed to buying bouillon cubes or stock/broth. It keeps for a fairly long time if you freeze it or keep it in the fridge.
When steak is well rested, shred it up and place in a large bowl. I used a fork and just starting going at it. At some point I think I was using my bare hands and pulling it apart, but it's some work.
Take smashed garlic and mix with salt. Mix garlic in with beef and add lime juice, olive oil, and sliced onion. Mix until well combined. Let marinate for about 30 minutes.
Next heat pan to very hot. In batches, line pan with thin layer of beef mixture and season with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat until crispy in spots, about 6 minutes or so.
I served this with some spicy black beans and basmati rice. It was a humble and simple meal, but packed full of flavor. Enjoy!