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Ropa Vieja is one spicy, decadent and satisfying meal you’ll always want to make again

Turn the heat up.



Although ropa vieja is most famous for being the national dish of Cuba, it actually has Spanish roots. In this traditional beef stew, shredded flank steak is combined with a savory tomato, onion, and pepper sauce. Our one-pot recipe cooks the beef and sauce simultaneously, as opposed to many traditional versions that stew the meat in stock until it is cooked before shredding and adding it to the separate sauce. This enables the beef to absorb all of the fantastic flavour from the spices and tomatoes while also releasing its flavor into the sauce as it cooks. The excess dishes are also saved!

Before shredding your steak, make sure it is incredibly soft for optimal flavor. If it is difficult to shred with two forks, return it to the sauce for another 30 minutes and try again. Although tough meat is the worst, if you give your steak the time to become melt-in-your-mouth soft, there is nothing finer.

For more advice on this traditional comfort food, keep reading. Do you want more stew? Check out this hearty Irish stew, which includes beef, potatoes, carrots, and, of course, Guinness.

What does “ropa vieja” mean?

“Old garments” (ropa vieja) means something in Spanish. There are several legends that attempt to explain the origin of this name, the most popular of which tells the story of a man who was so poor that he had to boil clothes in order to feed his family, but it’s more likely that the name was simply chosen because ragged clothing and long strands of shredded beef resemble each other in appearance.

Can I substitute a different meat cut?

The meat used to make ropa vieja is traditionally flank steak, which when shred produces the distinctive long strands of meat. Even though they won’t shred the same way, skirt steak or chuck roast will still taste great in this stew if you can’t get flank.

This can I cook in the oven?

Absolutely! After adding the tomatoes, bay leaves, and browned flank steak, you can put the stew in the oven as long as you’re using an oven-safe pot. When you place the stew in the oven, make sure it is already simmering and that the oven is prepared to 350°. Make sure it’s maintaining a steady simmer by checking in on it occasionally.

With this, what am I to serve?

Traditional accompaniments to ropa vieja in Cuba include steamed rice and black beans. If you really want to go all out, you could also prepare some maduros, which are fried sweet plantains and another Cuban specialty.

Can this be frozen?

They freeze well if you have leftovers, which you probably will because this recipe yields a large quantity. Before putting the stew in an airtight container and the freezer, let it cool completely. It ought to last three months.

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6–8 servings are produced.

15 minutes to prepare

Time Spent: 3 hours 15 minutes


a 2-pound flank steak

3 teaspoons of kosher salt and more

4 tbsp. divided vegetable oil

2 sliced, seeded, and preferably red and yellow bell peppers

1 yellow onion, sliced after being cut lengthwise.

6 minced garlic cloves

a half-cup of tomato paste

Smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon

1 teaspoon cumin

Dry oregano, two tablespoons

Dry white wine, half a cup

Whole, peeled tomatoes in a single (28-oz) can

two stale bay leaves

Pimento-stuffed olives, 1 cup, cut in half crosswise

served with cooked rice

14 cup of freshly chopped cilantro


Cut the steak into four rectangles. Apply 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt to both sides after patting dry with paper towels. Heat two teaspoons of oil in a sizable pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, grill the steak for 5 to 6 minutes, or until browned on both sides. Place on a platter. 2 more teaspoons of oil should be heated in the same saucepan over medium heat. Bell peppers, onion, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt should be cooked for 4 to 5 minutes while stirring occasionally. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 more minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and the spices are fragrant. Add the garlic, tomato paste, paprika, cumin, and oregano. Add wine and heat, stirring periodically, until it is reduced by half, about 2 minutes, scraping up any browned pieces from the bottom of the pan. Bay leaves and tomato juices should be added. Break up the tomatoes with your masher before adding the beef to the stew. If necessary, add water to completely cover the steak before simmering. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until steaks are easily shredded. With two forks, transfer the steaks to a platter and shred them finely. Reintroduce the steak shreds to the stew. Stirring often, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to a sauce that coats the meat. Add the olives and salt to taste. Serve rice with ropa vieja. Adding cilantro last.