February 6, 2012

Cuban Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef Stew)

One late night, my husband and I were watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and we simultaneously found ourselves drooling over a restaurant's version of Ropa Vieja.  Ropa Vieja is a Cuban dish, which is Spanish for "old clothes" because it resembles a slew of colorful rags.  This cuisine is new territory for me, so I did some research and decided to base my recipe from Epicurious' version, making a few tweaks here and there as I went.  The verdict?  My husband loved it and asked that it be put into our regular meal rotation.  My 8-year-old daughter asked me to pack it for her school lunch the next day.  Success!  My opinion?  While it did take a lot of time and effort (and dishes!), it was very good!  The leftovers are even better so I would suggest making this a day in advance.  Happy eating!

Adapted from Epicurious

Braising Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb flank steak
  • 4 c water
  • 1 c red wine
  • 1 large carrot, chopped 
  • 1/3 c sweet onion, chopped 
  • 1 celery rib, chopped 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 whole black pepper corns 

Additional Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced 1/4-inch thick 
  • 1/2 c red onion, julienned 
  • 8 oz diced tomatoes, undrained 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano 
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 c frozen peas, thawed 
  • 1/4 c green olives, halved 
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste 


Season the flank steak generously with salt and pepper.  In a large stock pot, add the flank steak, water, wine, carrot, sweet onion, celery, bay leaf, garlic, oregano, cumin, salt and peppercorns (braising ingredients).  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat falls apart.

Remove the meat from the liquid.  Cover and set aside.  Strain the braising liquid with a colander into a large bowl, pressing on the solids.  Return the braising liquid to the large stock pot.  Bring the braising liquid to a boil and continue to boil for 30 minutes.  Reserve 2 cups of the braising liquid and set aside.  

Heat the olive oil in the large stock pot over medium heat.  Add the green bell peppers, red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers and red onion to the skillet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook and stir the vegetables until tender.  While the vegetables are cooking, pull the the meat into shreds.

Once the vegetables are tender, add the shredded meat, the reserved braising liquid, tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper.  Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.  

Stir the frozen peas and green olives into the stew.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve over rice.  Enjoy!

Featured in: