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Tostones with Vaca Frita by Lucy WavermanDanielle Matar/The Globe and Mail

Tostones can be partially prepared ahead of time; after the plantains are smashed into rounds, freeze until needed.

Servings: 4

Ready Time: 3 hours (including braising time)

Vaca frita

1 flank steak, about 1 lb (500 g)

1/4 cup lime juice

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp chopped garlic

1/4 cup sazon completa (see below)

Pico de gallo

2 vine ripe tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup diced red onion

2 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tbsp lime juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Crema de cilantro

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tbsp mayonnaise

1 cup cilantro leaves

1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp salt

Tostones

2 green plantains

Vegetable oil for frying

Salt

Sazon completa

6 tbsp granulated garlic

4 tbsp kosher salt

4 tbsp onion powder

3 tbsp dried lime zest

2 tbsp oregano

2 tbsp cumin

2 tbsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp dried parsley

Method

To prepare the sazon completa (complete seasoning), combine all the ingredients in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to blend thoroughly. It can be stored in an airtight container for up to six months.

Cut the flank steak into four large pieces. Bring five cups of water to boil in a pot. Place the flank steak with lime juice, bay leaves, garlic and sazon completa in the boiling water and cover. Add more water as necessary to keep the ingredients covered. Return to boil and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender and falling apart. Drain the meat, discarding the water.

Combine the ingredients for pico de gallo in a mixing bowl. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain off the excess liquid and reserve the pico de gallo.

Place all the crema ingredients in a blender and blend for about 30 seconds to puree. Reserve.

Microwave plantains for 6 to 7 minutes or until soft. Let cool, then make a slit down the whole plantain and gently pry off skin. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Cover chunks with parchment paper and smash with the back of a pot until about 1/2-inch thick. Place 1/2-inch of oil in a skillet and heat over medium heat. Fry rounds until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes a side. Place on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.

Drain all but 3 tbsp oil from skillet. Sauté vaca frita until brown and crispy, about 5 to 6 minutes.

To build your tostones: Top fried tostones with crispy vaca frita, add a dollop of crema de cilantro and top it off with the fresh pico de gallo. Serve 3 per person.

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