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, in a crockpot or stovetop. Now, I don’t consider myself a regular crockpot user, 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 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 white 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. The sofrito, I usually toss in as it is slow cooking or you can use the sofrito ingredients and drop them in at the beginning. I usually have sofrito ready-to-go frozen into cubes also.
If you love Latin food then you have to try some of my all time favorite dishes or bookmark them for later. Here are some of the most popular ethnic dishes, their history and ingredients to make at home.
Mexican Pork Carnitas: Make this in the slow cooker and then broil for crispy goodness.
Recaito: This is the cilantro based ingredient used in many Latin soups, stews and black beans.
Sofrito: You need to have this tomato based ingredient for Latin style beans and shredded chicken.
Latin Style Black Beans: If you have never tried these you are missing out and they are so easy!
Tilapia Ceviche: A citrus cured fish or shrimp appetizer with some kick.
Ropa Vieja Recipe
Authentic Cuban ropa vieja literally translated it means "old clothes" due to its shredded appearance. This rather unappetizing moniker conjures up images of someone's old T-shirt or distressed jeans laying on a plate. Let me tell you, this dish is nothing short of delicious. The blend of spices and the way the meat falls apart will make your mouth water as it cooks and fills your entire house with a delicious aroma. Although the meat will cook down considerably, you will still end up with a fair amount of meat. This is a great slow cooker recipe.
Place the meat in the slow cooker and add water. Place all vegetables and the spices in the slow cooker and stir.
Cover and let it cook for about 6 hours.
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. Serve with rice and a side of tostones. Enjoy!!!