Ropa Vieja is called The National Dish of Cuba. I was searching the Internet for other recipes when I saw this one, and it looked so good I decided to try it. So I did. Wow! Excellent taste without any hot stuff.
The recipe comes from Kimberly Killebrew, on the website www.daringgourmet.com. The cooking process reminds me of the Food Nirvana recipe for Mexican Pulled Pork except this one uses beef. Making accompanying dishes of black beans and rice was a fine way to make this a complete meal. But I was wondering how Ropa Vieja would taste as the meat and vegetable filling of a soft flour tortilla. Either way, I suggest serving an ice cold Cerveza (beer) as a beverage, perhaps Corona® or Dos Equis®.
Here is an interesting update. Peggy and I used some leftover Ropa Vieja along with heated and cut (like a pie) flour tortillas, guacamole and sour cream to create hors douvres. They were delicious! On a later night we made burritos with the soft flour tortillas, stuffed with the meat, some leftover black beans, sliced raw onion, diced tomato, guacamole and sour cream and chopped lettuce, and we gobbled them down with gusto.
Kimberly indicated that this recipe will serve six to eight people. Based on the weight of the beef, four to six adult servings for people with large appetites is more accurate. I removed most of her ingredient comments as they were explanatory for the decisions she made rather than essential. Similarly, I made a few grammatical changes and added a few of my own explanatory comments.
Finally, Kimberly advertised the use of certain "Lindsay" products as ingredients, and I'm sure you can substitute brands there if necessary, though be careful to buy the right type of olives. Ergo, don't use the typical ordinary pimento stuffed Manzanilla olives in jars that we find on shelves at the supermarket. Go to the deli area and get a package of firmer, extra large pitted Sicilian green olives.
Having now made Ropa Vieja twice, using chuck one time and a leaner roast the other time, I can tell you with certainty to avoid the chuck if it has any appreciable fat content. Why? Well, you can choose chuck if you like to spend a lot of time trying to remove melted fat from the final dish, but if you choose a leaner cut of beef you still get beef that is plenty tender and tasty without have to defat the final dish at all. Your choice.
I know you will have fun with this recipe and really enjoy the Ropa Vieja. My sweetheart Peggy and I loved it! I'm now thinking the build it yourself burrito method will be great to use at pot luck dinner parties or when you have a group of friends watching events like the Super Bowl. Yes, indeed it was!
2 pounds of extra tall cut defatted boneless chuck, or, use a thick, lean beef roast cut to make long strands of beef
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 each of large green, red and yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
⅛ teaspoon of ground allspice
⅛ teaspoon of ground cloves
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
½ cup of dry white wine
1 cup of chicken broth
1, 14.5 ounce can of crushed or diced tomatoes
1, 6 ounce can of tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 large carrot, cut in half
1 large stalk of celery, cut in half
1 cup of pitted extra large Sicilian Green Olives, sliced in half lengthwise
½ cup of sliced Roasted Red Peppers, drained
¼ cup of Pimientos, drained
2 tablespoons of Capers, drained
½ cup chopped of fresh parsley
2 tbsp. of olive oil for searing the beef
Remove and discard any excess fat and then pat the beef dry and sprinkle it on all surfaces with the Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over high heat. Once it is very hot add the beef and brown it generously on all sides. I like to keep the pot covered during each stage of that process and also use an exhaust fan to remove any smoke from the searing/browning process from the cooking area.
Turn off the heat temporarily. Transfer the beef to a plate. Do not discard the drippings and dark beef bits in the pot, for they are key to creating the flavor.
Add the sliced vegetables to the pot and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are caramelized (shiny and softened), stirring occasionally.
Add the minced garlic and spices, then stir and cook for another minute.
Add the white wine and bring the mixture to a rapid boil on high heat, deglazing the bottom of the pot (scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot with a spatula).
Add the chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaves. Stir to mix well and then simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
Return the roast to the pot along with the pieces of carrots and celery.
Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce the heat to very low.
Cover and simmer/low boil the mixture for 3 to 4 hours or until the beef is fork tender and falls apart easily. Stir the mixture, initially about every 30 minutes, flipping the beef over to submerge any part that was not under the liquid. Repeat that process and make sure during the last hour of cooking that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
Put individual serving shallow bowls or plates you plan to use for your guests into the oven and set it at 200 degrees F. Similarly, put larger serving dishes/bowls into the oven. Keeping hot food warm during the meal enhances it, and pre-warming plates and bowls is the perfect way to do it.
Discard the celery, carrots and bay leaves.
Transfer the beef to a wood cutting board and shred it with two forks, discarding any pieces of fat.
Stir in the sliced olives, sliced roasted red peppers, capers and pimientos.
Simmer the mixture uncovered on very low heat for 20 minutes to thicken the sauce, stirring every few minutes.
This is a good time to prepare whatever side dishes or accompaniments you plan to serve with the meal, like rice, beans, plantains, etc., or warm some soft flour tortillas and prepare raw vegetable accompaniments and make burritos.
Stir in the chopped parsley.
Mix the shredded beef with the other pot ingredients and heat the mixture for two to three minutes.
Serve the Ropa Vieja and the rice and bean dishes hot using the pre-warmed serving bowls and the pre-warmed individual plates or bowls for each guest.
Your guests can add salt or pepper to suit themselves. We did not need any additional seasoning.
You might serve some hot sauce on the side for heat afficianados.
Remember to serve the Cerveza!
¡Por Dios! ¡Lo esta excellente!