Cuban-style vaca frita (crispy shredded beef) cooked with onions then topped on creamy mac and cheese! A Cuban staple meets an American classic.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Knorr®. The opinions and text are all mine.
My favorite restaurant in Miami, FINKA, introduced me to this amazing dish – Vaca Frita Mac and Cheese! What is it exactly? Well, think crispy shredded beef marinated Cuban style topped on creamy mac and cheese. Talk about YUM! I wanted to recreate this dish at home and was able to with the help of Knorr® Chicken Bouillon. Have you ever added bouillon to the cheese sauce of mac and cheese? Hear me out. Using Knorr Chicken Bouillon goes beyond just soups, stews and rice. You can enhance the flavor of pretty much any dish, giving it a rich authentic Latino flavor!
SHOP THIS RECIPE AT PUBLIX!
To bring this Vaca Frita Mac and Cheese to life, I purchased Knorr Chicken Bouillon at my local Publix, my favorite grocery store. I love shopping at their stores so much! They are always clean, staff is always helpful, and shopping truly is a pleasure.
As a food blogger, I buy a lot of groceries, so I make sure to take advantage of all the sales at my nearest Publix. With that said, if you visit Publix between 9/7/19 to 10/20/19, you can save on Knorr Chicken Bouillon at Publix! You can also check out the Knorr website for more recipes and tips.
Publix always has everything I need at affordable prices. As a matter of fact, you can find everything for this recipe at Publix! Click here to find out more information about this promotion.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ROPA VIEJA AND VACA FRITA?
I get this question a lot because of the similarities in the recipes. Both ropa vieja and vaca frita are like close cousins. They are both beef dishes and marinated with similar ingredients. They are also cooked in a similar fashion initially however once the meat is tender and shredded, the meat is cooked in a tomato-based sauce to make ropa vieja while the beef is fried instead to make vaca frita.
HOW TO MAKE VACA FRITA MAC AND CHEESE
First things first, we have to cook down the meat so it’s easy to shred. In a Dutch oven, cook the flank steak with water until tender, about 2 hours. You can also use a pressure cooker instead which takes about 30 minutes.
Once the meat has cooked through, you shred it with two forks and transfer it to a bowl with dry cooking wine, olive oil, lime juice, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Let the meat marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.
You can make the mac and cheese in the meantime which is where Knorr Chicken Bouillon inside the cheese sauce will shine! I promise you the flavor of that cheese sauce will be insane!
After 20 minutes, sauté onions in a hot skillet with olive oil then add the marinated shredded beef. You may have to do this in batches as to not crowd the pan. Pan fry for about 10 minutes until the beef gets crispy. SO GOOD!
Once that’s ready, all you have to do is plate the mac and cheese then top with the vaca frita and sliced green onions. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do!
Vaca Frita Mac and Cheese (Cuban Crispy Shredded Beef!)
- 2 lbs flank steak cut in 4 pieces
- 2 cups water (enough to cover the meat in the pot)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons dry cooking wine
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Juice from 1 lime 2 tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- Salt + pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
- 1/2 cup sliced white onions
Mac and Cheese
- 8 ounces orecchiette, elbow, or cavatappi
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon Knorr Chicken Bouillon
- 2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
- Sliced green onions as garnish
- In a Dutch oven, add meat with water and salt. Cook at medium-low until the meat is tender, about 2 hours (In a pressure cooker, this takes about 30 minutes). Transfer meat to a plate and shred with two forks.
- In a large bowl, add shredded meat, dry cooking wine, olive oil, lime juice, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Let the meat marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the mac and cheese. In a saucepan, cook macaroni according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour to create a roux. Whisk in milk and Knorr Chicken Bouillon then cook for 1 minute until the mixture thickens slightly.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the cheddar and stir until cheese is completely melted. Add in cooked pasta and carefully stir to combine.
- To finish the vaca frita. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high. Sauté onions until tender then add the marinated shredded beef. You may have to do this in batches as to not crowd the pan. Pan fry for about 10 minutes, until the beef gets crispy. Transfer to a plate.
- Serve mac and cheese topped with vaca frita. Garnish with green onions. Enjoy!
Don’t forget to visit Publix between 9/7/19 to 10/20/19 to save on Knorr Chicken Bouillon!
love reading that finka inspired you! Im here also trying to recreate finka’s recipe. I am originally from miami but do not live there anymore. Everytime I visit, Finka’s vaca frita mac and cheese is a must! I will be trying this recipe today!