Fabulous Vaca Frita is a Cuban inspired recipe. Beautifully seasoned beef is paired with pan grilled onions and peppers, and finished with a dash of lemon.

1-1/2 to 2 pounds steak; flank, flat iron or London broil
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon pepper corns
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 bunch parsley

2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon pepper, freshly cracked and finely ground
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon salt, finely ground
1/3 cup cream sherry

1/4 cup olive oil
2 sweet onions
2 bell peppers, yellow, red or green, or a combination

1 lemon, cut into wedges
1/4 cup cilantro leaves

You can use most 1-1/2 to 2 inch thick cuts of beef for this recipe. I find that medium to fine grain meat with a touch of fat works best.

In the bottom of a heavy lidded pot place the bay leaves, pepper corns, garlic and parsley. Lay your beef on top and cover with fresh cold water until it’s about 1/2 inch above the meat. Place the pot over medium-high heat. Watch closely as you bring it to the point where it’s just about to boil; immediately reduce heat to a light simmer and cover. Simmer, covered for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Leaving the lid on and the beef in the broth, turn the heat off and allow to cool. Once cooled, transfer the contents of the pot to a lidded container and store in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

When ready to cook remove the meat from the broth and cut across the grain into 1/3 to 1/2 inch slices. Lay the meat on a wooden board with about 1/2″ space between each piece, cover with plastic wrap and gently pound until each piece is nearly doubled in size. Mix together the garlic powder, pepper, cumin, onion powder and salt. Remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the spices over the meat and give each piece a little rub. Turn the meat, sprinkle and rub the second side. Wash your hands and add a few sprinkles of the cream sherry to the meat by placing your thumb over the opening of the bottle, squeezing off most of the flow, and drizzle the rubbed meat.

Allow the meat to marinate while you clean and slice the peppers and onions into long, 1/2″ wide slices. Place two large frying pans on the stove and cover the bottoms with olive oil, using just a touch more in the pan that you’ll use for the meat.

Bring the heat up to very hot in both pans, move the pan that will be used to brown the meat off to the side for a moment. Add the vegetables to the other pan about 2 minutes ahead of adding meat to the meat pan. With both pans on the stove, toss the vegetables every minute or so while you lightly brown both sides of the meat, turning just once. The vegetables will be ready when they’re slightly cooked but still crisp; the peppers will show slightly charred spots. After you’ve made this a couple of times, you’ll be able to time the cooking of both dishes to finish within seconds of each other. If one finishes ahead of the other, transfer the contents of that pan to a warmed platter and set on a warm spot on the stove. Loosely cover if you like.

To serve, place the meat and vegetables on a warmed platter. Squeeze one lemon wedge over the meat, add the rest to the platter. Give the vegetables a light dusting of salt, sprinkle the meat and vegetables with the cilantro leaves. Each guest can adjust the lemon flavor to personal taste by squeezing a lemon wedge(s) over their serving.

*Magic: this recipe is exclusive to I Love You Recipes. It is from my personal, unpublished collection.

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