Blogs, Recipes

Ropa Vieja

One of the things I love about cooking is how the flavors can take you back to a specific time or memory. This recipe reminds me of my family whether it was dinner at La Teresita or the smells of my grandmother’s house. La Teresita is a Spanish restaurant in Tampa. My family have shared many meals together here. Every time we would go to dinner at Le Teresita, my dad would order Ropa Vieja, which means “old clothes” in Spanish. We would laugh as he made a joke that he liked the taste of old clothes then he would shake the bread basket, and ask “Más pan!” It became a family joke!

You’ll love this dish if you’re into big, bold flavors! It is delicious served with black beans, white rice, and sweet plantains. Typically this dish is made with flank steak, which is lean and has long, shreddy fibers, and is how the dish earned the name “old clothes.” It’s the traditional choice, but you can also use chuck roast. 

Brian and I love to use our Le Creuset braiser. So naturally, I used the braiser for this recipe. However you can also make this in a slow cooker. I included instructions for both below. 

I can not think of a better wine to pair with this dish other than Scout and Cellar’s 2018 OSO PARDO TEMPRANILLO. This wine is deep purple-red in color with notes of cherry, blood orange and leather lifted by a hint of violets on a textured frame with a bright finish. I love the story of where this wine comes from, La Mancha, Spain. The winery was founded over 30 years ago, when 28 wine growing families decided to join and work together, creating something larger than any of them could have done on their own. To this day, the estate operates as a cooperative, with over 6,000 acres of vineyard with about 60 viticulturists and vintners. Click the link to learn more and order a bottle.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 pounds flank steak
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt or more to taste
  • 15 ounces can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup Spanish green olives, pitted (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • white rice steamed
  • 1 lime quartered
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

Pat roast dry with paper towels. Heat oil in a large heatproof pot over high. Cook chuck roast, turning occasionally, until browned on both sides, 5–7 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 250°. Cook onion, bell peppers, and salt (plus 2 Tbsp. oil if using flank steak), stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 12–14 minutes. 

Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pan, until vegetables are golden brown, 3–5 minutes. 

Stir in wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until evaporated. Stir in paprika, oregano, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne until vegetables are coated; continue to cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. 

Add tomatoes and stir. 

Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Nestle the meat into the tomato mixture and tuck in bay leaves on either side. Cover and transfer to the oven. Braise until meat is very tender and shreds easily, 2½–3 hours. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Skim excess fat from sauce; discard bay leaves. Using 2 forks, tear and smash beef into sauce until it’s shredded and covered with sauce. 

Stir in olives and vinegar.

Top with cilantro. Serve with white rice, black beans and sweet plantains.

SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS

Add the wine, vinegar, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and spices to the slow cooker and stir. Add the flank steak and flip it around in the sauce.

Add on top of the meat the onion, bell peppers, olives, and garlic cloves.

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 9 hours or high for 5 hours.