“I’ve got a cousin . . .” – from Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen

I think it’s a given that if you’re Cuban, you’ve got a cousin (or twelve) somewhere. It’s absolutely normal, in a kind of abnormal way. I’ll go toe-to-toe with any of my American friends on this one. Name any place on the planet, I’ve got a cousin there. First cousin, second cousin once removed, primo-hermano. Got ‘em. Everywhere.
Puerto Rico? Check. Argentina? Claro. Chile? Como no. Cuba? Duh!
Don’t even get me started on U.S. cities. Particularly Miami. (Doesn’t everyone have a cousin in Miami??)

Along those same lines, there is no way you can mention “Ropa Vieja” without someone inevitably bringing up its first cousin, “Vaca Frita.”

See? We even do it with food. =D

Crockpot Vaca Frita

One 2 ½ lb. Flank steak, cut in thirds
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Pepper
2 bay leaves
¼ cup dry white wine
2 cups beef broth
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 or two fresh limes
Olive oil (twice around the pan)
1 white onion, cut into slices
½ bell pepper, cored and sliced
2 Tbsp. Parsley (fresh is best)
1 tsp cumin

1) Season the meat with salt and pepper and place in the crockpot.
2) Add dry white wine and bay leaves
3) Add beef broth and cook on high for 4-5 hours. Or low for 6-8 hours.

This next part only takes about 15 minutes:

4) Remove the cooked meat from crockpot. It should shred easily at this point.
5) Add the garlic to the cooling meat.
6) Squeeze the lime onto the meat.

7) In a large skillet, sauté the sliced onion, sliced bell pepper and parsley in the olive oil until the onion gets a little limp, but not completely transluscent.
8) Add the meat, and the cumin, stir-frying until the meat is hot again and slightly crispy on the edges.

9) Add a bit more salt and pepper to taste.
10) Serve with lime wedges

Don’t forget to call a cousin and invite them for dinner. 😉

(And if you’re still hungry, come on over to my house. We’re making churros.)