Monday, June 23, 2008

Ropa Vieja

Once again, I found a recipe on the Epicurious web site - I have had great luck with the recipes on that site. I learned that Ropa Vieja is a Cuban stew of shredded beef, onions, and peppers. Sounds good to me!

Plan on spending 2-3 hours in your kitchen if you decide to make this. It was a lot of prep and time, but well worth it!


For braising beef:
  • 3 pounds skirt or flank steak, trimmed
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 carrots, chopped coarse
  • 1 large onion, chopped coarse
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped coarse
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed lightly
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (I used Mexican oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
For the second step:

  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • I added 1 chopped jalapeno
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups braising liquid (will be left after braising) plus additional if desired (I ran out of braising liquid and needed to add some beef broth)
  • a 14- to 16-ounce can whole tomatoes with juice, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (I used Mexican oregano)
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/4 inch strips
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed (I planned on using these but didn't)
  • 1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed Spanish olive, drained and halved (don't like olives so I omitted them)


To braise beef:

  • In a 5-quart kettle combine all braising ingredients and simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours, or until beef is tender.
  • Remove kettle from heat and cool meat in liquid 30 minutes.
  • Transfer meat to a platter and cover.
  • Strain braising liquid through a colander, pressing on solids, into a bowl.
  • Return braising liquid to kettle and boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes.
  • Stew may be made up to this point 1 day ahead. Cool braising liquid completely and chill it and the beef separately, covered.


  • In kettle cook green bell peppers, jalapeno, and onion in 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat, stirring, until softened.
  • While vegetables are cooking, pull meat into shreds about 3 by 1/2 inches.

  • To onion mixture add shredded meat, 2 cups braising liquid, tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.

  • While stew is simmering, in a large skillet cook red and yellow bell peppers in remaining 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened.
  • Stir red and yellow peppers into stew with enough additional braising liquid to thin to desired consistency and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. (I let it simmer for about 25 minutes; 5 minutes wouldn't have been enough to really let the flavors get to know each other, as Jon would say)
  • Stir in peas and olives and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. (Omitted this step)
We enjoyed this dish over white rice. I was so impressed with the flavors of the beef. Adding the beef broth helped a bit, and I'm also glad I added the jalapeno. This dish isn't supposed to have heat, but since we like heat, I think I'd add a sliced poblano next time.

See the posts below for the salad I served with the meal as well as our wine choices for the evening..

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  1. Yum! I love ropa vieja, it looks delicious!

  2. This was great !! not too spicy and the sauce was extremely flavorful. Dad always gets to taste most of these creations.......