This week’s recipe comes from Chef Alex Otero of Bongos Cuban Cafe in Miami. Chef Otero has shared his version of Vaca Frita with us today: Vaca Frita de Pollo (Cuba Mojo Marinated Shredded Chicken)
If it’s chicken, it’s Vaca Rita, but the name of this dish refers to the style of cooking and seasoning.Vaca Frita is usually made with skirt steak or flank steak that’s been boiled the shredded, seasoned and fried. It’s nice and garlicky and great with lime juice squeezed over the top of it as its steaming on your plate. This version is made with chicken instead of steak but it’s otherwise prepared the same way its beef namesake is made. The result is a lighter variation of the original that’s perfect for chicken lovers. The recipe below makes enough for six. We’ve paired the Vaca Frita de Pollo with the 2007 Don David Malbec. The nose on this Malbec is a bouquet of cedar and spice with black cherries and black raspberries weaving its magic of sweetness. On the palate, elegant spice and berries making it balanced and juicy with a long finish. Priced under $20
6 Large boneless, skinless chicken breast 8 cups water, plus additional water as needed
1 ½ tsp of salt vegetable oil for searing
1 medium onion, chopped olive oil for sautéing
1tsp dried oregano 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced into rings
1 bay leaf 2 limes cut into wedges for serving
½ cup lime juice
1. Place the chicken into a large pot and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, about Half of the minced garlic, and the chopped onion.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium, and cook uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked, adding additional water as needed to make sure the chicken doesn’t dry out.
3. Remove the chicken from the pot and allow it to cool. Using the spiked end of a meat mallet, carefully pound each breast to flatten about ½ inch thickness the flattened chicken breast should have a somewhat –shredded appearance.
Transfer the breast to a large baking dish and add the remaining garlic, oregano, bay leaf ,lime juice and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, spreading evenly over the breast.
Refrigerate and marinate the chicken for 2 to 3 hours
When you’re ready to cook remove the breasts from the marinate and pat dry with paper towels, making sure no bits of garlic remain.
4. Lightly grease a large skillet with vegetable oil and heath over high heat.(The pan needs to be hot enough to allow you to sear the meat but be careful not to overheat the oil.) Working in batches, Take 1 or 2 of the breasts at a time and sear about 1 to 2 minutes per side until the meat is browned and has a crispy texture on the outside. Remove and set aside. (using a paper towel, carefully regrease the skillet between batches as necessary)
5. Once all the breasts have been seared and set aside, wipe the skillet with a paper towel, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and heat over medium high heat. Sauté the onions in the pan for about 4 to 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
6. Pour the sautéed onion over the chicken breasts and serve with the lime wedges
Bongos Cuban Cafe/ American Airlines Arena
601 Biscayne Boulevard
Downtown Miami, FL 33132