Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cuban Ropa Vieja or Cuban Shredded Beef in Sauce

"Ropa Vieja" literally translates to "old clothes".  This refers to the stringy, twisted look of the beef in this dish.  This is a classic Cuban dish.  The smells of the "sofrito" as it cooks and permeates the air, takes me back to my moms kitchen. It's memory evoking aroma is bittersweet. The main portion of this dish cooks very quickly, however, the meat needs to cook in water first before it is transformed into Ropa Vieja. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do at our home.

Serves 4-6

To prepare the meat:
2 1/2 - 3 pounds eye round roast, cut into long chunks
1 large onion quartered
3-4 garlic cloves crushed
1 large green bell pepper
2 quarts of water

Place all of the ingredient into a slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. If you don't have a slow cooker, you can simmer the meat for about 2-3 hours, until fork tender. Once cooked, pull the beef like you would string cheese so that you have beef strings of different thicknesses. Set aside to make Ropa Vieja. TIP: Do no throw out the yummy stock the beef made while it cooked. Simply cool, remove any fat, strain and freeze in portions as needed.

To make the Ropa Vieja
Shredded meat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green or red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces tomato paste
4 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine or vino seco
32 ounces tomato puree
2 bay leafs

In a large stainless steel skillet add oil and heat over medium heat. Add onions, peppers, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook stirring frequently for about 5-8 minutes. Add cumin and tomato paste, stirring to incorporate let cook for 1 minute. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, vinegar, wine, tomato puree, bay leafs and meat. Stir well. This is where you will see the "old clothes" look the dish is named after. Once the mixture is bubbling, reduce heat and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes.

Serve with fluffy white rice, Cuban black beans, fried sweet plantains, Cuban bread or crackers and Sangria or Spanish red wine. ENJOY!


  1. Got to tell you I am scared to make this at home. I made your picadillo recipe and it was so good that I can not bring myself to order it at my fave Cuban restaurant. But I am going to be brave and take the culinary plunge and make the ropa vieja.

    1. Thank you Carmen! I am flattered, but be brave and let me know how it goes.