If you’ve never had traditional Ropa Vieja at a Cuban restaurant, you’re truly missing out on something special. Ropa Vieja, literally translating to “old clothes” is the national dish of Cuba and is widely popular among many other countries in the Caribbean and Central America.
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, I was surrounded by a plethora of Cuban restaurants, not nearly as much as Miami, of course, but because of New York’s vast population of native Caribbean and West Indian cultures, it’s not uncommon to find yourself a plate of delicious, slow cooked, tender shredded beef and veggies! WHEW that was a long sentence. But seriously, if you’re a meat eater, Ropa Vieja is definitely something you’d want to try!
The best way to make this phenomenal dish is in the slow cooker. I prefer to slow cook (anything, really) on low for longer time, rather than on high for shorter, but of course it all depends on how much time you have. Taste the sauce as the meat cooks and adjust your seasoning accordingly. The amount of seasoning you use will depend on how much liquid and beef is used. In this recipe, I only needed to use the liquid from the canned tomatoes, but if you’re using fresh tomatoes or it seems too dry, add about 1/4 cup of beef stock or water to your slow cooker.
After slow cooking your beef, here comes the fun part! Shred the beef into tiny strips using two forks. I mentioned before that Ropa Vieja translates to “old clothes” and this is the reason why. The beef, once shredded resembles that of someone’s old, ragged clothes! Once your beef is shredded to your liking, add it back to your sauce along with the capers and olives. I didn’t include this in the recipe, but as a tip, I like to cook the shredded meat in the sauce for an additional 10 minutes before serving, just to marry the flavors a bit more.
Ropa Vieja is usually served with rice and beans and fried plantains on the side, completing your awesome Cuban dinner! Sometimes I like to eat it on top of some fried Tostones for a delicious snack! Have you ever tried Ropa Vieja before? How do you like it? Hope you all enjoy my version as much as we did!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. We will receive compensation for any items purchased using the links below, at no cost to the buyer.
- 1 1/2 - 2 lbs. flank steak
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced or chopped
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup capers or sliced Spanish olives
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Skill Level: Easy