Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ropa Vieja (or spicy, saucy beef!)

Photo by Katie Kay

The first time I ever had Ropa Veija was at Mission Burrito.  I had no idea what it was, but the lady behind the counter told me it was "spicy beef with more flavor" and I never looked back.  In fact, when Mission Burrito by my office started running out every time I tried to get some, I stopped going! Then they closed down that location.  Hmm.

Then Matt came home one day with a recipe some guy made at a party he went to and said, "you have to try this, it's called Ropa Vieja!"  Um, you mean this wasn't just a made-up name Mission Burrito gave their saucy beef?  It's actually a thing people know about?


I found lots of recipes that looked nothing like Ropa Vieja.  Because obviously authentic Ropa Vieja is supposed to look exactly like Mission Burrito's Ropa Vieja.  You know...the chain burrito store.  The peppers and onions were too pronounced, it didn't look saucy enough (come on, it isn't brisket!) and I felt fairly certain that capers and olives were NOT a part of the MB ensemble cast.

I found a recipe that was visually exactly what I was looking for, and the first time I made it was over a campfire with a Dutch oven.  Bold move!  But it was hugely successful.  I had it in my head that I needed to serve it with all of the MB sides, so we had sour cream, cheese, and more.

I made it the 2nd time using a crockpot at home, and it was just as good--and perhaps a bit easier--than the campfire version.  This time we let the meat speak for itself.  We ate it plain on tortillas and we tried it over rice as well.  It was perfect both ways.  I was worried it wasn't juicy enough for rice, but if you look in this picture very closely at the bottom, you'll see the juice running right through the rice to the bottom of the plate.  We mixed in the meat with the rice and it was absolutely perfect.

Photo by Katie Kay

Ropa Vieja
slightly adapted from My Big Fat Cuban Family

2 lbs flank steak
1 onion, sliced into thin strips
1 bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
5 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and mashed with the side of a knife
1 cup red wine
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground pepper
1 small can tomato paste (I think it was 6 or 8 oz)
1 small can tomato sauce (I think it was 8 or 10oz)
1 tsp oregano

In a crockpot, place flank steak, onions, peppers, garlic, red wine, salt and pepper in that order.  Do not stir because it will be easier to remove your peppers and onions later if you don't.  Add enough water to just cover the meat, then cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat falls apart easily with a fork.

Remove meat from crockpot and shred.  With a slotted spoon, place peppers, onions and garlic in a skillet heated with olive oil.  Saute veggies for 2 minutes, then add tomato sauce, paste and oregano.  Stir until combined, then add beef broth.  Combine, then add shredded meat.  Stir, then simmer on low until warm or until ready to serve.

Serve on a tortilla or on rice.   

Katie Kay

1 comment:

  1. It's so yummy I'm gonna die!
    -Random stranger who is definitely not your husband.