Friday, December 10, 2021

Ropa Vieja: Classic Cuban Style Shredded Beef

I grew up eating many different types of dishes aside from Italian, and Cuban cuisine is one of my favorites. Ropa Vieja literally means old clothing, probably because the shredded beef resembles old clothing. 

There are many different variations of this recipe with many more ingredients, but I like the one I grew up eating with less ingredients and great flavor. Served over a garlic white rice, this recipe is sure to become a favorite in your household... enjoy!


For the beef:
Water (fill a pot large enough for the beef chunks)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1-2 pounds chuck or flank beef
1/2 onion, diced
1 stick celery

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 green or red pepper, diced or cut in long strips
3-4 garlic cloves, diced
1-2 cups tomato sauce or Italian crushed tomato in puree form from a can works fine as well
2-3 bay leaves for taste, then removed when ready to serve
1/2 cup green manzanilla olives (optional)
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt/pepper to taste

For the rice:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups jasmine or long grain white rice
3 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

let's make it
Beef preparation:

1. Before you begin, rinse the beef in water and cut into a few large chunks.
2. Place the beef in a medium sized pot and fill with water, enough to cover the beef. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, 1/2 onion, and celery. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and cook of about 1.5 to 2 hours until beef is soft. Add water occasionally, if it is no longer covering the beef as it cooks.
3. Once it is cooked, place it in a bowl of cool water to cool for about 20 minutes. Once cooled, you can shred the beef and place it aside in a plate.

Ropa Vieja Sauce:

1. In a medium size pot, sauce olive oil, diced onion and garlic. Then add the pepper, tomato sauce, and white wine. Let simmer on low heat, and then add the water when it begins to dry out, stirring as it cooks for about 10 minutes.
2. Once the sauce is boiling, add the shredded beef, olives if you’d like, bay leaves and salt and pepper.
3. Fold the beef into the sauce until it is fully covered. Cook for about 5 more minutes low heat.

Garlic White Rice:

1. Before you begin, take 1 teaspoon of olive oil and oil the medium sized pot you will use for the rice with a paper towel, this prevents the rice from sticking to the pot. Place the pot on low heat and sauce olive oil and chopped garlic.
2. Rinse the rice in water and then place in the pot. Add the water and stir. Add either the lemon juice or vinegar, salt for taste.
3. Bring the rice to boil, and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes pass, remove the cover and cook for another 5 minutes. One cooked, fluff the rice and serve hot.