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Carne Frita

Carne frita is basically a meat dish prepared using either chunky beef or pork pieces and can be prepared in two distinctive styles- the Puerto Rican style and the Filipino style. The meat used is normally shoulder of fresh pork. Carne frita, made using beefsteak and onions, is a common dish belonging to Peurto Rican cuisine which borrows heavily from various cooking styles and is categorised as ‘creole cuisine’ with Spanish influence among others.

Ingredients and Preparation

Puerto Rican Style:

Beef or pork along with seasonings –salt, pepper, juice of a lemon, garlic and dried oregano are the chief ingredients.

The meat that is cleaned, seasoned and refrigerated overnight is roasted in olive oil in a pan on medium heat till brown on both sides. Meat needs to be tender, uniformly browned on both sides with few crisp spots. Extra surface oil is absorbed by placing on a paper towel.

Filipino Style:

Beef or pork along with seasonings –salt, pepper, vinegar, garlic, onion and soy sauce are the chief ingredients.

The sirloin used here is sliced to 1/8 inch thickness and placed in a pan with vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and peppercorns. Meat is to be cooked over low heat without disturbing till tender. Salt is added to taste. Once the meat is sufficiently browned, it is transferred on a platter, reduced liquid sauce is poured on top, sautéed onion rings are arranged on top and served along with fragrant steamed jasmine rice.

Nutritive Value of Carne Frita

A serving size of 100 g supplies the following-

• A total of ~271 calories of which calories from fat ~ 121

• Total fat is 12.18 of which saturated fat accounts for 4.42 g, polyunsaturated fat 1.4 g, and monounsaturated fat is 5.2 g. Cholesterol content is 68 mg

• Sodium – 373 mg and potassium – 321 mg

• Total carbohydrate content is 0.64 g of which dietary fibre is 0.1 g and sugars 0.02 g .

• Protein value is 22.08 g

• Vitamin C is 2% of daily value, Calcium is 2 % dv and Iron is 4 % dv.

• Estimated Calorie breakdown - 55% fat, 1% calories from carbohydrates and 44% calories from protein.

Nutritional Improvements

1. Being a high fat source, beef and pork are not suitable for consumption by obese persons and those running the risk of cardiovascular issues and hypertension as also diabetics and persons with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. For these and overall health reasons it would be advisable to use chicken or fish that are lower in fat content. In fact fish would deliver some essential fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids, DHA [Decosahexanoic Acid] and EPA [Eicosapentanoic Acid] that have cholesterol lowering effects. Regular fish intake has proven cardiovascular benefits, anti-cancer actions, aids in improved blood glucose management, lower incidence of dementia and depression, better vision, anti-inflammatory responses and is studied to lower the risk of delivering premature babies. Hence this one change can make this dish viable for consumption by all age groups.

2. Use of olive oil (due to the higher unsaturated fat content) is recommended in place of butter and lard which are high in saturated fats.

3. Use of tofu or soy nuggets may help Vegetarians and vegans to get to eat this dish as these are high in quality proteins and are the best meat replacers, providing the same kind of appearance and texture. These options are low in saturated fats and cholesterol. These supply soy isoflavones that have heart healthy, cholesterol reducing effects, support women’s health especially post menopause, preventing osteoporosis as also cervical and breast cancers. These are beneficial to arthritis candidates and persons with auto-immune disorders too as they need to avoid meat which has a higher inflammation factor that causes damage to internal tissues and soy isoflavones afford some protection against these effects. Soy products are also high in b-vitamins, calcium and iron.

Suggested Accompaniments

• A fibre-rich green salad

• A glass of high quality red wine with its potent resveratrol can provide vital anitoxidants to resist free radical damage and counter some of the effects of red meat in the body.