During the winter months savory one pot cooking is what I live for. So when Thierry of Genteel Flair saw my images from my trip to Cuba and suggested we cook something themed, Ropa Vieja was a-no-brainer. Braised shredded beef stew aka Ropa Vieja is a Cuban classic perfect for a lazy day. I typically would make this on a Sunday because of it’s “slow and low” characteristics. Whether served over rice or in warm tortillas the tender meat and flavors will blow you away. I adapted the below recipe from Food & Wine. I trully love that rich deep Cuban flavor so I changed and increase quantities for certain ingredients.
Braising the Beef
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds flank steak, cut with the grain into 6 pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp spanish paprika
- 6 beef stock
- 2 cups of beer
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 2 medium red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 2 medium green bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 14 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1/3 cup)
- 8 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 poached tomatoes, crush with hands in bowl
- 1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
- Cilantro for garnish
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering. Blot the flank steak dry with paper towels and season it generously with salt and pepper along with with spices. Working in 2 batches, brown the meat over high heat, about 10 minutes. Transfer the browned steak to a plate and repeat with the remaining meat. Return all of the meat to the casserole. Add the beer, beef stock and 1 bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the meat is very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Transfer the stewed meat to a large bowl and cover with aluminum foil; reserve 3 cups of the cooking liquid. Discard the bay leaf.
In the same casserole, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the onions and red and green bell peppers to the casserole and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Lay the cloves, cinnamon and the remaining bay leaf on a square of cheesecloth. Gather the edges and tie them with kitchen string; add the spice bag to the casserole. Stir in the tomato paste and mix in well for 2 minutes. Then add tomatoes, capers and the reserved 3 cups of cooking liquid; bring to a boil, then simmer over moderately low heat until the sauce thickens, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Discard the spice bag.
Meanwhile, using 2 forks, pull the meat into long shreds. Add the meat to the sauce and simmer over low heat until warmed through, then serve with rice. Garnish with cilantro.
‘Plated or Poured’ is our food and drink column curated by Rashad Frazier, a prolific home cook who hails from North Carolina and currently lives in NYC. When it comes to food and drink, he stands for everything good and righteous. You can keep up with his culinary exploits and so much more on his food and lifestyle blog, PULLEDTOGETHER.
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