Ropa vieja, literally translated into old clothes, is a traditional recipe for a tomato-based Cuban dish of Spanish origin , namely the Canary Islands (located just off the northwestern coast of mainland Africa) –a first stop for Spanish galleons going to the Americas and the last stop on the return trip. This seaport then became a natural vehicle through which the Spanish culture was transmitted to the New World and vice versa. The original dish was prepared in much the same way, but with other vegetables added to it.
Ropa vieja consists of a cut of meat( flank is the choice, but lesser cuts are adequate also) that has been beautifully seasoned with cumin, paprika , cilantro, oregano and mild peppers among other things and cooked for about 6-8 hours, in a tomato based sauce, on low in a crockpot or stovetop. Now, I don’t consider myself a crockpot kind of chick, but this dish lends itself perfectly to this form of cooking. What I find most amazing about Ropa Vieja is that one can use an inexpensive cut of meat can and it can turn out so tender and juicy that it just falls apart. Yum!
Like most Caribbean/Latin American food, ropa vieja is a humble, simple dish that is not only flavorful but also very nutritious. Ropa vieja is traditionally eaten with yellow rice, black beans and tostones, of course . You can however improvise and make tacos, tostadas or even a sandwich! Ropa vieja freezes well, so feel free to make a large batch and store the remainder (if there is any left) in your freezer for about 3-4 weeks.
I had some frozen homemade recaito ready to go that I added to the crock-pot. See the green frosty cubes in the photo? The sofrito, I just tossed in as it was slow cooking. I usually have sofrito ready-to-go frozen into cubes also
- 3-4 lbs. of flank steak or chuck roast
- 3 tomatoes diced
- ½ cup of water
- 2 jalapenos seeded, diced and cored
- ½ cup chopped celery
- 1 tsp. salt (paleo diet: sea salt)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp. of paprika
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 medium onion cut into small pieces
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 4 Tbsp recaito
- Season the meat with the spices coating it on both sides. Place all vegetables and the water in the crock-pot.
- Place the meat on top and turn a few times. Cover and let it cook for about 6 hours.
- Every hour or so, flip the meat, so it cooks evenly on both sides.
- Also make sure to poke meat with a fork to check for tenderness.
- When the meat falls apart and it is fork tender, it is done. Enjoy!!!