Ropa Vieja

Cuban Ropa Vieja
Photo credit:
Photo credit:

Ropa vieja translates to “old clothes”. It gets the name from the beef having the appearance of tattered clothes and while it may sound far from appetizing to refer to a savory dish as old, tattered clothing, this dish is anything but! It is exquisitely simple in terms of ingredients but it is jam packed with flavor: flank steak stewed in tomato sauce, green peppers, onions, and garlic. A great cut of flank steak is best when it has a bright red color. In the case of ropa vieja and vaca frita, two dishes that call for flank steak, maximum tenderness is achieved by first boiling the meat in a large pot of water or pressure cooker prior to the final cooking process.

Ropa vieja is best when served over a helping of white rice with fried green or ripe plantains as an accompaniment. In some Cuban households, it is often served “a caballo”(literally, “on horseback”) because it’s served with a fried egg on top. While the dish is typically on the savory side, a touch of sweetness is added with the addition of peas in the cooking process. I’ve seen other recipes that call for oregano and cumin, but the traditional recipe does not need either.

Ropa Vieja
Shredded flank steak boiled, then stewed, in a simple and savory tomato sauce.
Write a review
  1. 1.5 lbs flank steak
  2. 1/4 c olive oil
  3. a small white onion
  4. a small green pepper
  5. 8oz can tomato sauce
  6. 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  7. 1/3 c white cooking wine
  8. 2-3 bay leaves
  9. S&P to taste
  10. Optional: 1 small can of sweet peas, Roasted red peppers
  1. For tender, easy to shred meat, place in a large pot, fill with enough water to cover the meat and boil over med-high heat for 60 minutes. Alternately, you can cut the cooking time in half by using a pressure cooker. It bears repeating, please use caution when using a pressure cooker.
  2. When the meat is done, remove from pot and place in fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes to cool down. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat apart with your hands into fine strands.
  3. In a large pan, add olive oil and add onions. Saute for about 5-6 minutes, then add garlic and green pepper and saute another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the meat, tomato sauce, cooking wine and bay leaf to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir well.
  6. Reduce heat to med-low and let the meat simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add some of the liquid from the can of sweet peas to the pan as well.
  7. In the final 5-10 minutes of cooking, add half the can of sweet peas.
  8. Garnish with strips of roasted red pepper.
  9. Serve over white rice.
  1. Some people, like my cousin and my father, enjoy theirs with a fried egg served on top.
Cooking in Cuban

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.