Ropa Vieja | Shredded Beef

You can't talk Latin food without bringing up ropa vieja. Ropa vieja, which translates to shredded clothes, is a classic Latin dish that can be found throughout Latin America. Slow-cooked braised beef, seasoned with tomatoes peppers, onions and a few olives. Is your mouth watering yet? 

Believe it or not, this was one of the first dishes my mother taught me to make. Her ropa vieja is so good! I always knew I was in for a great dinner when I would hear the pressure cooker and smell onions and beef in the air. Once I mastered her recipe, I never strayed from it...that was until this year. Listen, don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with my moms OG recipe, except ONE problem. I hate the time I would waste shredding the beef! So, it was time to bring her recipe to 2018, less work and equal the taste. Heller!!!

A few of the differences between our recipes: time, beef and wine!  (Time, beef and wine... that sounds like a dope mixtape name. Noted!)

Time:

In my moms original recipe, she pressure cooks the beef in aromatic water until tender, removes it, shreds it with two forks and then sautees it with the tomatoes and onions. Blah, blah, blah. In mine, I throw everything into a dutch oven/slow cooker, forget about it for 2-3 hours and shred the beef with a pair of tongs. Boom, done!

Beef:

The OG recipe calls for skirt steak, brisket or flank steak. While those are great alternatives, I find that the flavor of chuck roast is SO much better. Chuck roast is a fattier thick cut of beef compared to a flank steak. And if there's anything I learned from cooking, is that fat is flavor! When all that fat starts melting away into the sauce, mmhm, you're left with a super tender beef. It will literally fall-off-the-fork tender! It's also super cheap and will feeds LOTS of people. You're welcome!

Wine:

To build on the already existing flavors, I add a little red wine in my recipe. It's wine, it's great, you're going to love it!

So, whether you're a traditionalist or a bit more modern in your approach, my recipe for ropa vieja is going be in your weekly dinner rotation AND it'll make you a lot more popular at your next potluck/dinner party. 

ROPA VIEJA | SHREDDED BEEF

Difficulty:  Intermediate  Yields:  6-8 servings   Prep Time: 15 mn Cook Time:  3.5-4 hours

Ingredients:                            

  • 2 tbs canola oil

  • 3 lb- chuck roast, cut into 4 pieces

  • 1 white onion, sliced

  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 tbs tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup red wine

  • 1- 14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes

  • 1 beef bouillon package

  • 6 cups water

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat dry chuck roast and cut into four pieces. Season with salt. In a large dutch oven, over high heat, heat the canola oil until barely smoking. Sear the chuck roast on all sides until golden brown crust forms, about 1-2 minutes per side. Set aside. 

Lower heat to medium and in the same pan, sautee the onion, peppers until fragrant. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add tomato paste and stir every few seconds, cook for 1 minute. Add wine and deglaze pan, making sure to scrape off any browned bits at the bottom of pan. Add canned tomatoes, return chuck roast to pan and add remaining items. Bring to a boil, cover, place in oven for 2 hours at 350 and the last 1-1.5 hours at 325 degrees. 

Shred chuck roast with tongs, remove bay leaf and any excess fat. Serve over rice or on top of tostones. 

Notes:

*If you are going to be using a slow cooker, cook on low for 6-8 hours. Also, sear the beef! Don't skip out of that, otherwise you will lose a lot of flavor.

*Freeze it! I have some stored in my fridge right now. It's a perfect left 

over kinda meal that will withstand a freezer really well.

*This works great with chicken as well. Same seasonings, less time, great in tacos.