Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes)

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Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes)

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2 pounds beef flank steak or skirt steak, trimmed
1 large yellow onion thinly sliced
1 of each large green, red and yellow bell pepper thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth chicken broth has a stronger/deeper flavor than beef broth
1 16 ounce can canned crushed tomatoes
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
2 Bay Leaves
1 large carrots cut in half
1 stalk celery cut in half
1 cup Lindsay Naturals Green Olives rinsed and drained (you can slice them if you prefer)
1/2 cup Lindsay Roasted Red Peppers thinly sliced, drained
1/4 cup Lindsay Pimientos drained
2 tablespoons Lindsay Capers rinsed and drained
1/3 cup fresh parsley chopped
  • Medium




The recipe for Cuban-style Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes) is one of the most traditional recipes of the cuisine of the largest of the Antilles. So there are different ways to prepare it according to the province and depending on each family tradition. It is, without a doubt, one of the most favorite dishes in the largest of the Antilles and is known as the national dish of Cuba.

Like so many other cultural symbols, gastronomy speaks of the customs and realities of each nation and of people. The recipe for old clothes, an emblematic Cuban dish, is also part of that narrative.

It is said that the recipe arrived on the Island with immigrants from the Canaries. The original Spanish version is made with beef, chicken or pork, or a combination of any of the three, and can be mixed with chickpeas or potatoes. But the Cuban dish only has the shredded meat in the sauce. 

Rumor has it that a poor man had guests to eat. As he was very poor, there was nothing to cook for them, so he went to his closet and took out some old clothes, which he hugged, trying to fill them with love. When he cooked them, his love for his family turned his old clothes into meat and this delicious dish emerged. Of course, this is sadly a myth. But what is true is that love should be the most important ingredient of every meal. 

How to Make Ropa Vieja:

  1. Pat the beef dry and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Heat a little oil in a Dutch oven over a high heat. Once very hot, add the beef and brown generously on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate. (Do not discard the drippings and blackened bits in the pot, they are key to the flavor.)
  3. Add the sliced vegetables to the pot and cook over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes until caramelized.
  4. Add the garlic and spices and cook for another minute. Add the white wine and bring it to a rapid boil, deglazing the bottom of the pan (scraping up the browned bits on the bottom). ropa vieja
  5. Add the broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Return the roast to the pot along with the pieces of carrots and celery. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 3-4 hours or until the beef is fork tender and falls apart easily. Discard the celery, carrots, and bay leaves.
  7. Transfer the beef to a plate and shred it. ropa vieja
  8. Stir in the olives, roasted red peppers, capers, and pimientos. Simmer uncovered to thicken the sauce for 30 minutes. Stir in the parsley and add salt and pepper to taste.

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