Thursday, December 8, 2016

Saborea Tu Cultura Con Vaca Frita and Sedano's Supermarket

This post is part of a sponsored collaboration with Sedano's and DiMe Media. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Cuban people have a tendency to be original and creative... and I'm not just saying that because I'm Cuban. Even in our cooking, we tend to take recipes we have perfected and stir things up to make something completely different. Such is the case with the infamous dish of Vaca Frita.

Now if you're bilingual, you're probably wondering how we can name a dish Fried Cow. But once you learn the history behind the dish and its ingredients, you can figure out the rest. To begin, Vaca Frita is a spin-off of another popular Cuban dish called Ropa Vieja. Yes, my friends, you read correctly - the dish is called Old Clothes. We Cubans take our meal times seriously and since we are known for adding flavor to just about anything, we couldn't help but do the same when it came time to naming these dishes. Ropa Vieja and Vaca Frita go way back in the Cuban culture and many conversations, marriages, business proposals and tender moments have occurred over the sharing of these plates.

Ropa Vieja is a signature shredded beef dish seasoned with traditional Cuban mojo sauce, and prepared in a tomato-based sofrito. It is juicy, delicious and quite popular in our culture. As a matter of fact, growing up, we had Ropa Vieja about once a week. I still remember how excited we used to get when my mom made her classic Ropa Vieja, which was always accompanied by a hearty bowl of soup she made from the substance of the meat. Of course, being as unique and malcriados as we were, some of us preferred the tender, saucy Ropa Vieja, while others of us wanted a crispier version of the same. Therefore, my poor mom had to split the meat and make one batch of Ropa Vieja and another of Vaca Frita. The first required one step, the second required two. Now the family was happy. 

Vaca Frita is the offspring of Ropa Vieja. The process of cooking the meat in the ingredients is cut short and once the marinade is absorbed, the meat is then shredded further and fried with a good helping of onions. Instead of a stew-like meat dish, you end up with a texture-filled meat delight, which fills your senses with its crispy outside, and  juicy inside. The lime and unique, traditional spices give the dish a special kick, that always takes me back to those family dinners at home. It doesn't matter where we are, or who we're with, whenever I make a Vaca Frita dinner, I always remember to have a serving of Ropa Vieja on the side for my own malcriados and that hearty soup we used to start our dinner with and compliment my mom for making. You see, I'm not really sure if it's about the flavor of the food or the importance of the memories it incites. I think the pleasure my family and I derive from eating dishes like Vaca Frita is the emphasis they place on tradition, values, family and culture.

So to buy my ingredients, I always go to a grocery store I know encompasses those themes that are so important in my heart and in my kitchen. Sedano's Supermarket has always been the place to shop for those Hispanic ingredients we all know and love. Sometimes with the passage of time, and the distance of our Latin countries, we forget the correct names of the ingredients and aren't sure how to ask for them. But that's OK at Sedano's. Here, I feel like I'm going to a family member's house, or a neighbor's, and I just have to tell them what I'm making or what it tastes like, and they already know what I need. It's that simple. Through their products and their service, Sedano's has a way of helping me uphold my culture's traditions and family values, and make food a way to connect with my cultural heritage. It's almost like they tell me #SaboreaTuCultura and everything will be alright.

I'd like to share our family's Vaca Frita recipe with you so you can have a taste of what made me who I am and how important my cultural traditions are to me.

Vaca Frita

Servings: 6
Total Cooking Time: 4 hours

2 pounds flank steak

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, sliced

2 small limes, cut into wedges

two tablespoons lime juice

Mojo Criollo

Seasoning Ingredients:

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoon salt


Marinade the steak in Mojo Criollo for about two hours. Place the steak in a pot, and just enough water until the meat is covered. Cover the pot and simmer until the meat is tender, about 1 ½ hours. Remove pot from heat, and allow the contents to cool down.

When the steak is still warm but not especially hot, remove it from the pot. On a plate, shred the beef using two forks, or pull the beef apart using your fingers. Add the seasoning ingredients and lime juice, and mix them into the beef using your hands. Set aside.


Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sautee until the onions are tender (about 5-8 minutes). Turn the heat up to medium-high, then add the shredded beef. Cook the beef for 5-15 minutes, until it is crispy.

Remove from heat and serve with lime wedges. It can be served by itself, with white rice on the side, or with Moros. Don't forget to also treat your family to a side of fried plantains to add a sweet element to your meal. Enjoy...

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