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Cuban Shredded Beef

kept byDAPHNE
recipe byCooks Illustrated

Vaca frita is a Cuban classic that features beef (usually flank steak) that’s been boiled, shredded, and fried so that the exterior develops a deep crust; it’s flavored with lime juice and garlic. Since developing a deep crust on the meat usually renders it dry, we wanted to refine the meat’s texture to develop textural contrast: a good exterior crust and a moister, more tender interior. For that reason, we start with a collagen-rich chuck-eye roast, cutting it into 1½-inch cubes to reduce the cooking time and gently simmering it (instead of boiling it, to prevent moisture loss) before pounding it flat—a method that’s much more efficient than shredding the pieces by hand. To reinforce the beefy flavor, we fry the meat, along with some thin-sliced onion (a classic element of vaca frita), in its own fat before finishing everything with garlic dressing and citrus juices (lime as well as orange, to mellow the lime’s acidity but maintain brightness).

Use a well-marbled chuck-eye roast in this recipe. When trimming the beef, don’t remove all visible fat—some of it will be used in lieu of oil later in the recipe. If you don’t have enough reserved fat in step 3, use vegetable oil.

Serves 4-6


2pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast, pulled apart at seams, trimmed, and cut into 1 ½-inch cubes
Kosher salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1teaspoon vegetable oil
¼teaspoon ground cumin
2tablespoons orange juice
1 ½teaspoons grated lime zest plus 1 tablespoon juice, plus lime wedges for serving
1 onion, halved and sliced thin
2tablespoons dry sherry



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