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Cook Talk

Cuban bufet
Need help on quantities for party for 70. Plan to serve black beans, rice, shredded beef, shredded chicken, salad. Will have s few other things but need most help on quantities for meats. Thanks for any help!
black beans, about 5-6 pounds dry
rice, 8 pounds dry (some left over)

shredded beef,
shredded chicken,

Allow 2 pounds raw beef plus 1 pound raw boneless chicken for every 6 people for large party portions.
America's Test Kitchen, the Cooks Illustrated people, did vaca frita, I like it the best-

Serves 6

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.

2 pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast, pulled apart at seams, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 1 tablespoon juice, plus lime wedges for serving
1 onion, halved and sliced thin
2 tablespoons dry sherry


1. Bring beef, 2 cups water, and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt to boil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until beef is very tender, about 1 hour 45 minutes. (Check beef every 30 minutes, adding water so that bottom third of beef is submerged.) While beef simmers, combine garlic, oil, and cumin in bowl. Combine orange juice and lime zest and juice in second bowl.

2. Remove lid from skillet, increase heat to medium, and simmer until water evaporates and beef starts to sizzle, 3 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to rimmed baking sheet. Pour off and reserve fat from skillet. Rinse skillet clean and dry with paper towels. Place sheet of aluminum foil over beef and, using meat pounder or heavy sauté pan, pound to flatten beef into 1/8-inch-thick pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat or connective tissue. (Some of beef should separate into shreds. Larger pieces that do not separate can be torn in half.)

3. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons reserved fat in now-empty skillet over high heat. When fat begins to sizzle, add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown and charred in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Add sherry and 1/4 cup water and cook until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer onion to bowl. Return skillet to high heat, add 1 1/2 teaspoons reserved fat, and heat until it begins to sizzle. Add beef and cook, stirring frequently, until dark golden brown and crusty, 2 to 4 minutes.

4. Reduce heat to low and push beef to sides of skillet. Add garlic mixture to center and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden brown, about 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat, add orange juice mixture and onion, and toss to combine. Season with pepper to taste. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

How Can You Make Beef both Tender and Crispy?

Unlike most versions of vaca frita, ours boasts a moist interior and a crispy crust—and comes together in just one pan.

SIMMER: Cook cubed beef at gentle simmer to help it retain moisture, then uncover and increase heat to burn off liquid.

POUND: Transfer beef to baking sheet (reserve fat) and flatten with meat pounder to produce mix of chunks and fine threads.

SAUTÉ ONION: Sauté onion slices in beef fat over high heat until golden, then deglaze with sherry and water. Transfer to bowl.

SEAR BEEF: Heat more reserved beef fat, then briefly sear meat until edges are dark brown and crispy.

BRIGHTEN: Clear center of pan; sauté minced garlic and cumin; then add orange juice, lime juice, and lime zest.
Pick the Right Cut to Shred

Before we fine-tuned our vaca frita cooking method, we chose a cut of beef that would stay moist and tender during the two-part process. Flank steak is traditional, but we opted for chuck roast, which is streaked with fat and collagen—both of which increase the beef’s perceived succulence.

CHOOSE CHUCK: For moist, tender meat, we ditch the traditional lean flank steak and use fattier, collagen-rich chuck roast instead.

salad, use 3/4 the amount for 100 from any of the salad on the plan for 100 page.

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