Most times that I’m in the car I like listening to NPR. I’ll usually avoid going shopping from 11-1 on Sunday (I can’t stand the sound of Garrison Keillor’s voice) but I like when I time it so that I can listen to The Splendid Table. A few months ago on the show there was an interview with two women who had just published a new Cuban cook book, The Cuban Table.
They spent a portion of the interview talking about the dish ropa vieja and by the time it was over I knew I had to try and make it myself. It translates to mean ‘old clothes’ which I’ll admit doesn’t sound particularly appetizing. The story goes that a poor man with nothing to cook for his family began to cook old clothes in a pot and his love for his family turned it into a tasty meal. Fortunately for all of us, there is a version that doesn’t involve stinky laundry.
This is a great recipe for a lazy afternoon. There is a fair amount of prep work involved but after that all you have to do is sit around and wait. The beef braises on the stove for about 2 hours and then gets combined with the other ingredients at the end. I also had it with rice and briefly cooked a can of black beans with a few cloves of minced garlic.
This isn’t a slow cooker recipe but the final texture of the meat reminds me of pulled chicken or beef that I have made in it before. The kind that just completely falls apart when you poke it with a fork and is so deliciously tender.
Of course it’s hard to go wrong when you have a dish with a base of peppers, onions, and garlic. This made for several great dinners for us and while I didn’t have it for breakfast, it sure would have been better than Trix with cool blue Gatorade.
For the Braised Beef
- 2 lbs flank steak or brisket, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1/2 small red cabbage, quartered
- 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
- 2 sprigs spearmint
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns
- 1 tsp allspice berries
- 1/2 tsp whole cloves
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 6 C water
For the Ropa Vieja
- 1/4 C olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 large pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1 1/2 C tomato puree
- 1/4 C dry white wine
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 C roasted red peppers
To cook the beef place all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover, then cook for 1.5 to 2 hours. Remove from heat and allow beef to cool in the broth. Remove beef and shred by hand. Set aside the broth.
In a large pan sautee the onion, green pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, and allspice to make a paste. Cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are clear. Add 1/2 cup of the broth, the tomato puree, wine, bay leaf, and shredded beef.
Cook for 15-20 minutes, then add in the red peppers. Serve with rice and beans.
Recipe from The Cuban Table.