Ropa Vieja Revisited

In the early years of my marriage, every month I looked forward to one thing more than just about anything else: my monthly subscription to Southern Living Magazine. It does seem completely foreign that to have inspiration for new recipes, we had to wait each month for these culinary and homemaking treasures to be delivered to our doors. I also had the monthly Southern Living recipe pages that fit into a massive three ring binder. And of course, every home cook looked forward the the publishing of the Annual Recipes Cookbook each year. Here is a link for the first edition I ever received. Southern Living was, or rather is, one of those institutions that really helped me develop my own cooking style and gave me confidence to try new things.

Before we had home computers and printers, I would either type out recipes or cut and paste (old school style) into my own utilitarian, black three ring binder, filled with my favorites. After 30 years of marriage (happy anniversary to us next week), this notebook is a trusted archive of entertaining, cooking and memories.

One recipe that I loved was the Southern Living Ropa Vieja which quickly replace my tired old pot roast. Being a native of Florida, this Cuban stable was much loved and used. Served with rice, black beans, Cuban bread and red leaf lettuce salad, it was a special weeknight dinner that could be made with little effort in two hours while tending to children’s homework, laundry or visiting with friends next door. This dish is certainly perfect for a Sunday Supper, company or a holiday buffet.

I recently revisited this old friend and decided the old recipe needing a few tweaks to make it my own, and to pump up the flavor. I have added lots of black pepper, lemon juice for brightness, smoked paprika for richness and reduced the olive oil in half. Use a really good white wine for the sauce- you’ll be drinking the rest during dinner. I hope you will give this fantastic Cuban dish a try. Buen Provecho!

Big flavor with a Spanish influence

Ropa Vieja

  • 2 pounds flank steak

  • 1 large onion, sliced

  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

  • 1 lemon
    3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

  • 1 TBSP olive oil

  • One- 15 oz can tomato sauce

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • 1 small jar chopped pimentos

  • Cooked yellow or white rice

Inexpensive flank steak transforms into a rich hearty dish
Just boil the thing
Trust- this gets better
Deep rich flavor from the cooking water
Sauté the peppers and onions until translucent

Method Prep- 20 minutes Cooking time- 1 1/2 hours

  • In a large Dutch Oven, boil the beef in enough water to cover for one hour. Add more water if needed.
  • Remove cooked beef. Reserve at least 1 cup of cooking liquid. Set aside. Shred the steak with forks or by hand. Beef will resemble “torn” clothes. You can chop pieces of shredded beef into smaller pieces if desired.
  • In the same Dutch Oven on medium high heat, add oil. Sauté peppers and onions until translucent. Add in seasonings- salt, pepper, smoked paprika and bay leaf. Sauté in garlic.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in reserved liquid, tomato sauce, white wine and simmer. Add in shredded beef. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon into the sauce for brightness. Cover and simmer on low for 30-40 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaf. Stir in peas and pimento. Serve over hot rice. Serves 6 .
A wonderful aroma from this pot
Add seasonings
Simple tomato sauce creates a luxurious smooth sauce
Shred the beef with forks or by hand
Things are about to get GOOD!
Really Good!
With a spoon, scrape down the “fond” from the sides of the pot- tons of flavor there.
Add peas and pimento before serving

To be certain you have all the flavor, keep enough water over the beef while boiling to have plenty of cooking broth to use for the sauce. Also, the “fond” or residue on the side of the pot, is full of flavor. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the pot with a wooden spoon to add this fond to the sauce.

Bright and beautiful

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