Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ropa Vieja


The weather in South Florida has been so gloomy these couple of days, so I longed for something warm, comforting... something to satisfy my soul. So I thought of Ropa Vieja.

Ropa Vieja, or translated literraly as "tattered clothes or rags", is a Latin American cuisine. It is named as such because the shredded beef resembles so much like the ragged edges of an old clothing.... as explained to me by my Hispanic friends.


This dish is very similar to some dishes that we have in the Philippines, that's why I've taken so much liking to it. It is actually nothing but beef stewed in a tomato-based sauce. What makes this different though, is that it requires a specific cut of meat – flank - which can be shredded in long pieces.

In my opinion, the real secret to this dish is in the length of time the meat is braised. Longer braising allows more time for the flavors to meld well together, resulting in a very flavorful, tender meat that just melts in your mouth! Yum!


Pictured here is my version of Ropa Vieja. It is my opinion that the best way to enjoy this dish is to have it with rice. Plain rice. A little maduros (or fried plantains) on the side completes the meal.

Then you will be a happy camper.

Ropa Vieja
Adapted from Cooking Light

Cooking spray
2 (1-pound) flank steaks, trimmed
3 cups thinly vertically sliced red onion
2 cups red bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
2 cups green bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons thinly sliced pitted green olives
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon no-salt-added tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 steak to pan; cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove steak from pan. Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining steak.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, bell peppers, and garlic to pan; cook 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in olives and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper); cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in vinegar, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook for 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in broth, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Add steaks; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 1 1/2 hours or until steaks are very tender. Discard bay leaves.

Remove steaks from pan; shred with two forks. Stir shredded beef and cilantro into pan.

Note: This dish is definitely better the next day. Left-over meat can also be eaten with tortilla or taco.