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Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja is a traditional Cuban dish made with shredded beef in a flavorful tomato sauce made with onions, garlic and spices. Other popular additions include bell peppers, olives and capers. In this recipe we keep it really simple so the saucy shredded beef really shines! This dish is easy to make and absolutely delicious!

The finished ropa vieja served with white rice and fried sweet plantains on the side.

 

Why is it called ropa vieja?

The literal translation of ropa vieja is “old clothes”. It’s called this because the shredded beef resembles tattered, old clothes. While the name may be odd, this dish is so popular it’s the national dish of Cuba.

 

What cut of meat is used for ropa vieja?

Flank steak is traditionally used to make ropa vieja. It’s a flavorful, but rather tough cut of meat that requires a long cooking time to break down the fibers and make it tender. I’ve make ropa vieja using brisket, but it is drier, and missing that little chewy texture the flank steak has. But, brisket is more affordable than flank steak (at least where I live) so if in a pinch, you can use it.

 

What sides are served with this dish?

Serve ropa vieja with white rice, black beans and a side, like fried sweet plantains, tostones or a simple salad. This shredded beef is also delicious with mashed malanga or mashed potatoes. However you serve it, this is a filling and delicious Cuban-style dinner your family will really enjoy.

 

Ingredients

  • 1½ pound Flank Steak (1 or 2 steaks depending on their size)
  • 4 cups Beef Broth
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, sliced
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ½ cup White Wine
  • 1 (8 ounce) can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt, if needed at the end

The ingredients for ropa vieja displayed on a wood cutting board.

 

Prep work

The prep work for this recipe is quick and easy. We’ll start with the flank steak because it needs to start cooking before we make the sauce.

 

Flank steak usually comes in a large piece. It may be necessary to cut it in half so that it can be arranged in the pot without folding or overlapping.

 

The remaining prep work can be done while the steak is boiling in the beef broth.

 

Slice the onion into strips. Make them thin, but not too thin so that they don’t dissolve in the sauce. Mince the garlic and measure out the rest of the ingredients.

 

The only thing missing is shredding the beef, but that has to be done once it’s cooked.

 

Cook the flank steak

Arrange the flank steak in a large pot so that it’s not folded or overlapping. Add the beef broth. Set the pot over high heat. When the broth comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes.

 

Turn the steaks, lower the heat to medium-low and cook another 30 minutes. Turn the flank steak again about halfway through the cooking time.

 

Keep the broth at a simmer, if it’s boiling too vigorously too much of it will cook away. We want to keep some of that delicious stock for the sauce.

 

Remove the steak from the pot and place it on a cutting board or pan. Allow it to cool.

 

Keep the beef broth on low heat, barely at a simmer. We want to keep it warm and to continue concentrating, but not to cook away.

 

Shred the steak

When the flank steak is cool enough to handle, shred it to resemble thin strings. The best way to do this is to hold the steak down with one fork and shred with another.

Cooked flank steak being shredded by two forks on a black cutting board.

 

Add the shredded beef back into the broth. Keep warm on low heat until the tomato sauce is ready.

 

Make the tomato sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Cook them gently for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

 

Next, add the garlic, oregano, cumin and black pepper to the skillet and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the white wine, and cook for 1-2 minutes until most of the liquid evaporates.

 

Add the tomato sauce, water and the bay leaf to the skillet. I like adding the water to the empty can of tomato sauce and give it a swirl. That way I get every last drop out. When the sauce comes to a simmer, lower the heat to medium-low to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Keep the sauce at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.

 

Bring everything together

Add the shredded steak (along with any broth remaining in the pot) to the tomato sauce. Stir well to combine and coat the shredded beef with the sauce. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, to let the flavors come together, stirring occasionally.

 

Remove the bay leaf and discard. Taste the ropa vieja and add salt, if needed. As a reference, we did not add additional salt to our finished dish. Serve and enjoy!

A close up picture of the shredded beef.

 

You may also like these Cuban food recipes:

 

The finished ropa vieja served with white rice and fried sweet plantains on the side.
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja is a traditional Cuban dish made withshredded beef in a flavorful tomato sauce made with onions, garlic and spices.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Shred the beef10 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Cuban
Keyword: cuban shredded beef
Servings: 4
Calories: 365kcal
Author: Elizabeth

Ingredients

  • pounds Flank Steak
  • 4 cups Beef Broth
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion sliced
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • ¼ teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ½ cup White Wine
  • 8 ounces Tomato Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt to taste, if needed at the end

Instructions

  • Arrange the flank steak in a large pot so that it’s not folded or overlapping. Add the beef broth. Set the pot over high heat. When the broth comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Turn the meat, lower the heat to medium-low and cook 30 minutes. Turn the flank steak again about halfway through the cooking time. Keep the broth at a simmer, if it’s boiling too vigorously lower the heat a bit.
  • Remove the meat from the pot and place it on a cutting board or pan to cool. Keep the broth barely at a simmer over low heat.
  • When the steak is cool enough to handle, shred it to resemble thin strings. Add the meat back to the broth. Keep on low heat until the tomato sauce is ready.

Make the tomato sauce

  • Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the garlic, oregano, cumin and black pepper to the skillet and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Deglaze the skillet with the white wine, and cook for 1-2 minutes until most of the liquid evaporates.
  • Add the tomato sauce, water and the bay leaf. When the sauce comes to a simmer, lower the heat to medium-low to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Keep the sauce at a gentle simmer, raise or lower the heat as necessary. Stir occasionally.
  • Add the shredded beef, along with any broth remaining in the pot, to the tomato sauce. Stir well to combine. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, to let the flavors come together, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the bay leaf and discard. Taste the ropa vieja, add salt, if needed. As a reference, we did not add additional salt to our dish.

Nutrition

Calories: 365kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 1283mg | Potassium: 968mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 246IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 4mg
The nutritional information above is computer generated and is only an estimate. There is no guarantee that it is accurate.This data is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only.


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