Garlic-Lime Fried Shredded Beef

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Latin American Paleo Cooking Over 80 Traditional Recipes Made Grain and Gluten FreeVaca frita literally means “fried cow” and is, hands-down, my favorite Cuban dish. Some real culinary magic happens when you take slow-cooked beef, season it intensely with garlic and lime and then fry it until it achieves this tantalizing crispy-on-the-outside yet delightfully tender-on-the-inside texture.

  • Yield: 6 Servings


  • 2 lb (905 g) flank steak
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp (10 g) minced garlic
  • 2 tsp (12 g) fine Himalayan salt
  • 2 Limes juice
  • ¼ cup (56 g) lard, avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large white onion, sliced thickly, divided
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
How to Make It
  1. To prepare the steak, cut it crosswise into 2 or 3 pieces and place in a large pot. Add the quartered onion, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns and cover everything with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and lower the heat to a moderate simmer. Cook until the steak is falling-apart tender, 2½ to 3 hours.
  2. Remove the steak from the pot and shred with 2 forks. Strain the broth and reserve for another use, discarding the cooked onion, bell pepper, bay leaf and peppercorns.
  3. To season the steak, combine the shredded steak with the seasoning ingredients in a bowl. Tip: You can leave the cooked shredded meat in the seasoning, refrigerated, for several hours or overnight. It will make the meat more flavorful, but is not necessary. If you do batch cooking, you can actually leave it in the marinade for up to 3 days, frying it up fresh each time you eat a portion.
  4. To fry the steak, work in batches to fry the meat. In a large skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons (28 g) of your fat of choice over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the meat shreds to the pan without crowding them to ensure that the meat fries and does not steam. Spread out the meat with spacing throughout. Allow it to fry for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring a few times. Add about one-third of the sliced onion and continue to fry until the onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a serving plate and keep warm. Continue until all the meat and onion is cooked.
  5. Serve with lime wedges and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

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