Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ropa Vieja (Cuban Beef Stew)

Like many of my favorite foods, I first tried ropa vieja during my semester in Havana, Cuba. Meat is scarce on the island, both due to its economic situation and more so (this is a less known fact) because the government saves meat and fish to be sold at hotels/tourist restaurants). Originally this dish was prepared using whatever leftover meat Cubans had on hand, then vegetables and seasoning were added to give the dish flavor. Using leftovers (of anything) is 100% Cuban. See my post on making Batidos for a cartoon that explains the innovative Cuban spirit.

3 lbs skirt or flank steak (you can substitute chuck steak, not traditional but saves $$$) .

8 cups water
2 large carrots, chopped
Vidalia onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 head garlic, cloves cut into 1/4ths
2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

2 green bell peppers,
cut into long thin strips
1 large Vidalia onion,
cut into long thin strips
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups leftover braising liquid
a 14 oz can whole tomatoes with juice, chopped
1 head garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 red bell peppers,
cut into long thin strips
1 yellow bell peppers,
cut into long thin strips
1 orange bell pepper, cut into long thin strips
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup chopped Spanish olives stuffed with pimento
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine water, steak, carrots, celery, garlic, onions, spices, bay leaf and freshly ground black pepper in large stew pot. Bring to simmer and cook about 2 hours, or until meat falls apart easily using a fork. Remove meat from liquid and cool. Strain liquid from pot into another large stew pot, discard vegetables, etc than remain in strainer.

Clean & dry original stew pot. Heat up olive oil over medium-high heat Add green pepper, onion strips and garlic and turn to medium. Saute 7-10 minutes, until soft. While peppers and onion are cooking, shred cooled meat. Add tomatoes to stew pot. Simmer 10 minutes. Add meat, cumin, paprika and oregano. Add braising liquid. Bring to a simmer and let cook 1 hour. Add red, orange and yellow bell pepper strips and cook 30 minutes. Add thawed peas and chopped olives. Cook another 30 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread or over saffron rice. Stew is even better next day and can be kept refrigerated 3-5 days or frozen.

The photograph, sadly, is not mine...I have to find time to make a Cuban meal sometime soon, but having a Dominican boyfriend...that cuisine has taken precedence as of late. This great photo is on Flickr and is by>


  1. That sounds wicked good, I'm going to have to try it out.

  2. Sounds like a great recipe! Got an award for you - I think I sent you a link to the post already. Also, I am thinking about a dish for your Valentine's day contest and will try to make it within the next few weeks.

  3. This is one of my absolute favorite Cuban dishes ... my hubby's too .. long process, but I'll give it a shot!

  4. I second Muneeba! Very few Cuban dining options nearby so this will let me enjoy one of my faves in comfort at home!

  5. I made this the other day - took forever, but it was SO worth it! My first time even trying to make this at home. It tasted like the amazing version I had in Key West, FL!Spectacular stuff. Hubby couldn't stop singing its praises. THANK YOU!


Tried my recipe? Please let me know how it turned out for you! Be honest (and kind!)